A Special Edition of
Yoga, Healing, & Peace Celebrating the International Day of Yoga
Featuring The INTERNATIONAL DAY of YOGA COMMITTEE at the UNITED NATIONS
And renowned contributors including Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yogmata, Sadhguru, Pujya Swami, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Dadi Janki, Maya Tiwari, and Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda
A Welcome from our Host Editor Dear Beloveds of Light on Light, Light on Light was so pleased to publish the issue “Spotlight on Yoga” in the Spring of 2018, and, with it, a VoiceAmerica Special featuring leading yogi’s and yogini’s from around the world. Thus, it is even more gratifying to see this new Light on Light Special Edition emerge, focused on the June 21 International Day of Yoga, and created in collaboration with the leadership of the United Nations NGO Committee for the International Day of Yoga! We’re especially happy to announce that this Yoga Day Light on Light Special Edition issue will also have a companion VoiceAmerica Special—broadcasting online on June 15, 2018, and available 24/7 on The Convergence on VoiceAmerica (Empowerment Channel) click here to listen. It includes many of the wonderful yogi’s, yogini’s and global yoga communities spotlighted in this issue of Light on Light that you are about to enjoy. I have just been a part of creating this VoiceAmerica Yoga Day Special and it has been amazing, and gratifying, to hear all of the wonderful news about yoga around the world and the beneficial effects that it is having across so many cultures. Yoga has certainly come into its own! We hope that you find this Special Edition issue for The International Day of Yoga inspiring and informative. The many wonderful articles make crystal clear yoga’s global role today with regard to health and well being—from the deeply personal level to the collective hope we all share for a peaceful world that “works for all.” Light on Light Magazine, and The Convergence at VoiceAmerica extend profound thanks to the United Nations NGO Committee for the International Day of Yoga and especially Denise Scotto, Chairperson, who has been our gracious and capable co-creator and liaison in all these efforts! So, Welcome! We, at Light on Light Magazine are always happy to hear from you, our readers. This is really your magazine. Light on Light was created to energize and nurture. You can help build and guide its future. Love, Karuna Karuna’s message for the International Yoga Day Summit at SHIFT Catalyst: http://theshiftnetwork.com/blog/2018-06-10/yoga-power-transformation For information on the programs and retreats of our Host Editor see: http://www.lightonkundalini.com
A Welcome from our Contributing Editor As Contributing Editor of Light on Light Magazine, it’s also my privilege to serve on the Executive Committee of the United Nations NGO Committee for Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns. It’s wonderful to see this issue of Light on Light dedicated to the UN-mandated International Day of Yoga emerge through our cooperation with the United Nations NGO Committee for the International Day of Yoga, a committee of which I am also a part. So, to everyone, WELCOME, and enjoy this wonderful issue! Kurt Johnson, PhD Co-author of The Coming Interspiritual Age (Read More).
M A G A Z I N E Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle
Special Edition Yoga, Healing, and Peace Celebrating the International Day of Yoga Special Edition Editor .................................................. Denise Scotto, Esq. Host Editor .........................................................................Karuna Contributing Editor ....................................................Kurt Johnson, PhD Managing Editor ..................................... Rev. Shannon Winters, MS Graphic Editor & Layout ............................................................ David Winters
Welcome We at Light on Light Magazine are dedicated to illuminating the light of wisdom and compassion of spiritual practices and inspiring lifestyle features for the flourishing of health, mind, and spirit every day. Light on Light Magazine welcomes authors, spiritual teachers, and our readers, to contribute ideas and brief concepts for content in future issues. We welcome light-filled submissions of wisdom, inspiration, and transformation for feature articles, personal transformation stories, poetry, fictional short stories, music, artwork, #ShineYourLight inspirations, and more! Please send a brief description of your content or idea to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Except for fair use extracts with full credit, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Welcome from the Editors by Karuna and Dr. Kurt Johnson.................................................................. 1 Features International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations Welcome by Denise Scotto, Esq.................................................................................4-5 Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Message............................................................................................6 The Power of Yoga by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.............................................................................. 7-8 Basic United Nations (UN) facts .................................................................8 The Richness & Fullness of Yoga A Qualified Mind by Dadi Janki.............................................................................................. 9-10 Reflections on the Practice of Yoga by Siddha Yoga Master Yogmata Keiko Aikawa........................................................................... 11-12 Preparing for Silence by BK Mohini Panjabi................................................................................... 13
Raja Yoga Meditation: Generating Well-being in the United Nations by Marianne Lizana................................................................................ 50-51 In Meditation: Where Change Begins by Robert Perry..............................................................................................52 Initiatives of Yoga in Daily Life by Kripadevi Denis Licul........................................................................53-54 Reflections on IDY by Shakuntala “Molly” Roopan..................................................................55 Yoga & Health Ayurveda: the Eternal Healing Science We Need Now! by Maya Tiwari.........................................................................................56-58 The Science of Mindfulness by Deborah Norris, Ph.D....................................................................... 59-60 The Beneficial Impact of Yoga on Health and Well-being by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH, FAMWA, FRSPH.................................. 61-62 Yoga, Health & Well-being by Anjali Grover, MD.....................................................................................63 Yoga for Seniors: Remembering the Way We Were, Loving Who We Are Today by Jana Long............................................................................................64-65
Silence with an Aim by Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine.................................................14-15
Writing Conscious Music to Help the Soul Shine Again After Trauma by Paul Luftenegger...............................................................................66-67
Reflections-With a Meditation by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa...................................................................... 16-18
The Beginning of a Movement by Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz.....................................................................68-70
Raja Yoga Meditation: Radiating Benefit to the World by Gavatri Naraine..................................................................................19-20
Mainstreaming Accessible Yoga for Adults with Development Disabilities & Challenges by Jackie Gadd with Jo-San Arnold......................................................71-72
Learn To See The True Nature of Things by BK Brijmohan...........................................................................................20
Small Steps...One Path by Jo-San Arnold......................................................................................73-74
For Amma, Yoga Is Tuning with Our True Self by Brahmacharini Shobana................................................................. 21-22
Yoga in Daily Life: Benefits Inwardly & Outwardly by Dinah Wiley..........................................................................................75-76
Wisdom from Sister Jenna by Sister Jenna ..............................................................................................22
Yoga as a Salve for Fear & Anxiety by Canon Lloyd Casson................................................................................ 77
Yoga: Connect, Integrate, Become One by Kamlesh Patel..................................................................................... 23-25
Yoga & Promoting a Culture of Peace & Non-Violence
A Taste of the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council by Denis Licul........................................................................................... 26-27 Yoga & the Work of the United Nations A Minute of Silence: Bookends in the UN General Assembly - A Conversation between Robin Ludwig by Gayatri Naraine........................................................................................28 Sri Chinmoy: Universal Dimensions of Indian Spirituality by Kusumita Pederson........................................................................... 29-32 Yoga: The Solution for the Sustainable Development Goals by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev..................................................................33-34
Yoga & Peace by H.H. Amma Sri Karunamayi...................................................................78 Yoga: A Path to Non-Violence & Peace by Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda........................................79-80 Snapshot of Yoga’s Positive Effects by Mary Friedland........................................................................................ 80 Interfaith Understanding in Yogic Wisdom by Rev. Dr. Dileepkumar Thankappan................................................81-82 Yoga: Art of Optimizing Harmony by Swami Brahmananda Saraswati................................................... 83-84 Yoga & Creative Arts
Yoga & the SDGs by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati..........................................................35-36
Poetry by Sri Chinmoy...............................................................................................85
From Temples to Toilets by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati............................................... 37-38
Musical Poetry by Paul Lufenegger.................................................................................86-87
Mindful Social Justice in Society and the United Nations by Denise Scotto, Esq.............................................................................39-42
Poetry by Ms Shakuntala “Molly” Roopan.......................................................... 88
Meeting in Safe Spaces by Peter M. Senge....................................................................................43-45 Forgiveness & the African Renaissance by Thomas Odhiambo..................................................................................46 Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council: An Instrument of Peace and Unity by Kripadevi Denis Licul........................................................................47-48 Namaste by Dale Colton...............................................................................................49
Your Sound Body & Meditation by Daniel Lauter..................................................................................... 89-90 Mini’s Musings, Poetry by Padmini Murthy, MD...............................................................................91 Observing the International Day of Yoga Around the World Global Celebrations of Yoga: The Yoga Day Summit and International Yoga Festival by Philip Helmich....................................................................................92-93
International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations Welcome By Denise Scotto, Esq. I am honored that the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations (UN) was invited to prepare this special edition of Light on Light Magazine as one way to celebrate Yoga Day 2018 and extend my heartfelt welcome to everyone. Back in December 2014, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted Resolution 69/131 commemorating 21 June as the International Day of Yoga. Recognizing the rapid popularity of yoga worldwide, the Resolution describes how yoga provides a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, a critical goal of the UN’s work and the 2030 development agenda also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What many aren’t aware of and what one of the submissions explains, is that for decades, Sri Chinmoy led World Peace Meditations in the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium which I attended as UN staff. My strong belief is that by doing so, through this ‘sacred’ or ‘subtle’ activism, he helped lay a foundation for the introduction and adoption of the General Assembly Resolution. Sharing a mutual interest in the practice of meditation and other forms of yoga, Gayatri Naraine and myself, organized two events observing Yoga Day in 2015. The success of and positive responses to these events, prompted us to bring together members of the greater UN community to explore the possibility of forming an official committee, resulting in the International Day of Yoga (IDY) Committee at the UN being born. The IDY Committee is composed of members of nongovernmental organizations accredited to the UN, members of the greater UN community, individuals who practice the underlying principles of yoga and a variety of experts. The Committee’s mission is implementing the General Assembly Resolution from raising awareness about the
fullness and richness of yoga—it’s practices and values—generally, as well as, within the work of the UN system and the greater UN community, to educating the public about the International Day of Yoga and to linking with others to further this endeavor. Since 2015, while observing Yoga Day, the IDY Committee has organized events in the UN during the Commissions on Social Development and the Status of Women in addition to holding community events commemorating Human Rights Day, World Interfaith Harmony Week and the International Day of Peace. Topics presented include yoga’s positive benefits on health and well-being of the integral being—physical, mental emotional, spiritual; connecting discernment to decision-making; yoga: the ultimate connection. Programs involve respected yoga masters as well as scientists and performing
artists. The IDY Committee also encourages organizations beyond the greater UN community in a variety of ways, for example, by advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through promoting yoga accessibility. Preparing this special edition of Light on Light Magazine has been a labor of love and it’s my wish that it conveys fundamental facts about the UN, how yoga is important to everyone’s health and well-being, and, at the same time, how yoga is more than physical postures. Esteemed yoga masters explain how yoga is a way of living one’s life and offer simple techniques. Other contributions show how yoga is experienced in the work of the UN and how yoga is practiced in organizations affiliated with the UN impacting the daily lives of people living all over the world. You will read words written by participants in UN Yoga Day celebrations such as: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev; Yogmata Keiko Aikawa; Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati; Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati; Paul Luftenegger, and from representatives of UN accredited organizations including: Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University; International Federation of Women in Legal Careers; Medical Women’s International Association; Sri Mathrudevi Vishwashanthi Ashram Trust (SMVA Trust); Yoga in Daily Life; Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council; Ram Chandra Mission. Other authors have written articles drawing from 5
their expertise, i.e., Deborah Norris, PhD; Mother Maya Tiwari; Padmini Murthy, MD, MPH; Anjali Grover, MD; Jana Long; Marianne Lizana; Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz, Daniel Lauter; Jackie Gadd; Jo-San Arnold. While others describe their experience in how marking the International Day of Yoga has impacted their lives. You will find an array of subjects that is hopefully inspiring or meaningful in some way. I am grateful to everyone for their favorable response in providing wonderful submissions, to members of the IDY Committee, to Gayatri Naraine, Judy Rodgers, and Julia Grindon Welch for assistance, to the Light on Light Magazine team especially Karuna and Shannon Winters, and I express appreciation to Dr. Kurt Johnson for his tireless efforts and support. UNFPA, UNSRC Enlightenment Society and the Values Caucus at the UN have been strong partners also deserve acknowledgement. I wish all of you a very Happy Yoga Day and encourage you to connect with the IDY Committee at the UN. All good wishes, Denise Scotto, Esq. Chair, International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations
The Power of Yoga by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
The upcoming 4th International Yoga Day is one more occasion to remind ourselves of the power of yoga and reflect on how we can unite to bring peace and enrich our lives with more wisdom. Yoga is maintaining equanimity in the mind in challenging times and also gaining that muchneeded skill in action while conflicting interests pose threats to peace in society. Contrary to what people think yoga is—being reclusive and moving away from society, it is actually integrating with every aspect of life. In fact, yoga was taught in the middle of a battlefield by Lord Krishna over 5,100 years ago. In today’s world when everyone feels righteous and has the right to fight for their own cause, there needs to be a commonality of understanding and a review of our sense of righteousness. Yoga gives you that much-needed keenness of observation and a wider context to consolidate your thinking. While perception and expression are two main reasons for conflicts, yoga can make a big difference to both.
Our society is undergoing social, economic and other challenges which seriously cause depression. A large number of youth today are suffering from this condition and popping anti-depressants is not helping. It is not so much a disorder as it is a pattern of low energy, low enthusiasm, disinterest and hopelessness. Yoga elevates the spirit and pulls one out of the quagmire of depression. Another significant chunk of the world’s population is caught up in aggression and violence, either due to oppression and injustice or due to fanaticism. Here as well, yoga channels the energy of youth, giving it a constructive direction and preventing it from turning destructive.
Yoga changes the behavior of a person because behavior depends on the stress level in them. It creates a friendly disposition and a pleasant inner atmosphere in people. Higher values like nonviolence, forbearance and stability start coming to the fore in one’s personality. This effect multiplies and brings peace and harmony at societal, national and global levels. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have come out of depression through yoga and meditation, and also those who have been able to leave a life of violence behind and start afresh. It is with an inclusive, broad vision with which people can be brought together and ways found amidst conflicting positions. Inner peace is absolutely essential for a sane and healthy individual, yet many do not seem to be attending to it, maybe by sheer lack of awareness. As of last year, nearly 2 billion people on the planet joined the International Yoga Day celebrations. This gives a hope for the future and we can dream of an ideal world where conflicts could be resolved by mutual dialogues and our society could be lifted out of depression. A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, prejudice-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birth-right of every individual. Parliaments all over the world are striving to achieve this goal of human existence—happiness! The European Union has also done some work in identifying parameters beyond GDP to measure prosperity. Governments around the world have begun to recognize Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH). Yoga is something that can aid and be a very useful tool towards that goal.
Yoga goes a step further than solving problems that have manifested already. The propounder of Yoga, Maharishi Patanjali, says that its purpose is to stop misery before it appears in life. Neither at school nor at home are we taught how to deal with negative emotions, but this knowledge is essential in improving the quality of our life. I am happy to
see that the International Day of Yoga has gone a long way in creating global awareness about this treasure of knowledge and its immediate benefits to humankind. Yoga is path to realizing your true nature and when you realise it, the whole world becomes your family.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned spiritual and humanitarian leader whose programs have reached an estimated 370 million people in 155 countries. He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values which collaborate on humanitarian initiatives worldwide. Sri Sri’s work includes empowerment and trauma relief programs for youth, armed conflict resolution, U.S. Veteran PTSD therapy, prisoner rehabilitation, addiction treatment and human rights advocacy.
United Nations DID YOU KNOW? By Denise Scotto, Esq., former Social Affairs Officer, Department for Economic & Social Affairs, New York The idea of the United Nations (UN) was born during World War II; The foundational document of the UN is the UN Charter which was completed in June 1945 in San Francisco; October 24 is UN Day because that’s when the UN was officially born when 29 countries ratified the UN Charter; The UN will be 73 years old this October; The UN is a system-wide organization comprising many entities including specialized agencies; The UN has significant offices in Geneva, Austria, Nairobi as well as regional offices and in-country offices; In 1954 the UN Association of Japan presented the Peace Bell to the UN and that the bell was cast from coins donated by the delegates of the 60 nations who participated in the 13th General Conference of UN Associations held in Paris in 1951; The UN provides food to 80 million people in 80 countries; The UN protects and promotes human rights on the ground and through roughly 80 treaties/declarations and that 10 December is Human Rights Day; The UN coordinates a $22.5 billion appeal for humanitarian needs of 93.5 million people; The UN supports maternal health helping more than 1 million women per month overcome pregnancy risks;
21 September is the International Day of Peace and that the UN Goodwill Ambassadors for Peace include: Jane Goodall, Yo Yo Ma, Michael Douglas; In 2017, Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) applicable to all nations; SDG 4 calls on governments to deliver equitable quality education for all; CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, is known as the Bill of Rights for Women and touches the lives of women through their life cycle; The UN Chief, the Secretary General, recently stated that mental health remains one of the most ‘neglected global health issues’ but a key one in achieving the SDGs; The UN issued a statement describing that 90% of the planet is breathing in polluted air and claims 7 million lives per year; An NGO is a non-governmental organization that may be accredited to the UN; In 1949 and the early 1950s, a Rose Garden, which still exists today, was nurtured by a number of leading women at the UN and that all rosebushes are donations by the AllAmerican Rose Selections; Amidst the hurried activity with the Secretariat, there is a Meditation Room in the UN GA Building Lobby that was created by UN SG Dag Hammarkjold which opened for use in 1957;
The UN fights extreme poverty helping improve the lives of 1.1 billion people;
The UN General Assembly this month adopted a Resolution establishing a working group to discuss whether a new international instrument to address gaps between international agreements is needed;
The UN assists over 65.3 million refugees and people fleeing war, famine or persecution;
The UN regularly presents exhibits on particular themes in addition to art exhibits and concerts;
The UN keeps peace with 117,000 peacekeepers in 15 peace keeping operations on 4 continents;
The UN Delegates Dining Room has a spectacular view of the East River and holds special events. 8
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
A Qualified Mind By Dadi Janki At this time when we see the condition of the world, many of us want to serve the world. But when our own minds are affected by the conditions of the world, we cannot really serve the world. A mind that is filled with anger or sadness cannot serve.
I often have used the analogy of the boat moving through the water. For the boat to reach its destination, the water must remain outside the boat. For our minds to be able to serve, the atmosphere of the world must remain outside of our minds. It is not that the outside atmosphere leaks into the boat of our minds, but rather that the vibrations of a powerful and clean mind affect the atmosphere outside bringing strength to those who are living in the world.
So, how do we create a mind that is filled with spiritual power?
How do we cultivate a mind that is qualified to serve? There are three understandings that we must have in order to cultivate such a powerful mind. First is the recognition that our innate nature is intrinsically good. We may have forgotten that this is our original nature, but we have not lost that innate goodness. This goodness embodies love, peace, happiness, truth, and purity. When we are in touch with
that a child will often take up his father’s business, our business, too, is as donors, those who give our pure thoughts, our good wishes, our virtues and powers to others.
this goodness, we become aware that we are spiritual beings, souls. It is this link back to our original qualities that gives us the further realization that we are children of God.
shores of darkness, drawn by a new and brighter future. The Confluence Age is the era that dawns in the darkest time of mankind, bringing the first rays of light from the pure and peaceful future world that lies ahead. In this time, we can gain the power of discernment. This is the time when that realization that we are children of God becomes awake within us, allowing us to connect with God, to take strength from God. We are able to feel how weary we have become. We are able to see how weary the world has become under the influence of greed for power,
Second, to whom do we belong? As souls, we are the children of God. We, too, are nonviolent. We, too, are peaceful. We, too, are loving. We are pure and powerful in the way that God is pure and powerful. Our inherent nature is like God’s nature. These are God’s gifts to us—these powers, these virtues, these qualities. God is the Bestower. In the same way
Third, what is special about this time? This is the Confluence Age, the most elevated time in which the old world meets the new world. It is a time when the boat has lifted its anchor and left the
anger at injustice, and fear of violence and ignorance. We begin to understand that the way to heal the world is to heal ourselves. We cultivate the healing powers of hope, harmony, compassion, commitment, tolerance, and respect. We see how these qualities light the way to the new shore. It is a time in which we can know our true selves, we can know God, and we can know the future. We begin to make out the contours of the brighter future world. Seeing that emerging world, we feel inspired. We use our pure feelings and elevated thoughts to fill the world with that which is life-giving and, in so doing, sustain ourselves on this journey. This time carries with it special blessings. When we recognize the unique call of this time, when we realize that the door on our intellects has been unlocked, our minds open in a new way to receive spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts, such as inner peace, spiritual love, and power allow us to use the treasures of this time in a worthwhile way. We find we can share our growing strength with others. We could not give to others when we ourselves were weak from the heaviness of the atmosphere of
a tired world. We can only give to others when we have reclaimed our spiritual power. This happens in the Confluence Age. Once we begin to gain spiritual power, what is it that we must do? We must use everything we have in a worthwhile way. We must use time, breath, resources, thoughts, words, and actions for benefit. We must elevate our relationships with others. It is not that we connect with others for efficiencies in the physical world, but that we meet them as our spiritual brothers and sisters, as souls who are as weary as we were and who are thirsty for peace, for spiritual love, for compassion, and for understanding.
No one who comes in front of us should leave empty handed. Everyone who comes in front of me should receive somethingâ€”a virtue, a power, sweet words of encouragement, drishti. I am a soul, a child of the one who brings life to the world. So I, too, must understand myself to be a donor. At the end of the day we should take the time to reflect back on the day to see if each moment, each breath, each thought, word, and deed were imbued with purity and goodness. We should check to remember whether each one who came in front of us left lighter, easier, and filled with hope. This is the true meaning of serving through the mind. It is not only that when someone needs special support we send our good wishes. We, of course, would do that anyway. It is something more. We become so filled with the pure power of spirituality that we continuously emanate that. We become those who are filled with light and with goodness, making each thought and each feeling we have beneficial. When the world accumulates enough souls of this quality, then a new golden age naturally follows, bringing peace and light to the world.
Dadi Janki is a centenarian and continues to serve as the active Spiritual Head of Brahma Kumaris. With unshakeable conviction, she refuses to set limitations for herself through her tireless service to others. She has been thus engaged since 1937 and also spent 40 years based in London from 1974. She has inspired individuals of all cultures and professions to live according to a higher sense of purpose and to contribute to the creation of a better world. Deep and insightful, she is an absolute joy to listen to and observe. 10
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
Reflections on the Practice of Yoga by Siddha Yoga Master Yogmata Keiko Aikawa
Originating in India, Yoga is a practice that leads to enlightenment
How is the universe created? The external world is a large universe, while each human body is its own small universe. Through meditation you can cleanse the human body; by entering inside, of yourself to purify your body and mind, to explore what is inside of you and then return to the source and reach the truth. This is Samadhi. And through samadhi, you can then attain enlightenment. This is true yoga. In the modern world, yoga is considered more as a healthy pursuit and many people practice it just to balance their body for good health. In yoga, you perform asana, using the breath to cleanse away stress, accumulated in the body, in order to find balance. Asana is movement, which brings us harmonization and indeed many people also experience an improvement in their health. 11
This is why these activities have become so popular and familiar to us nowadays. However, the nature of yoga is not limited to just this objective. It can also remove attachment of the mind, cleanse the mind to become empty, and then go beyond that to become oneness, of being, with the source; experiencing it with awareness. This is true yoga. In the Himalayan secret teachings, we practice true yoga. Himalayan saints are people who have achieved enlightenment. They have completely cleansed body and mind and then reached supreme consciousness. So, I hope you are not just satisfied with balancing your body, but also wish to proceed deeper inside, to reach the source and enlighten the truth. The nature of the mind is to distinguish through making judgements or seek for things with desire. In this competitive society, people keep inventing great things using their creativity and enjoying many conveniences, however, at the same time they are destroying nature. We need to learn and practice giving more. It means we need to practice sharing love, sharing things and to release all attachment. Letâ€™s support each other, trust each other and respect each other. To be able to practice these, we need to foster inner peace and love. It is meditation and yoga that can help you achieve this purpose.
Meditation is a training to empty the mind. By releasing your beliefs and attachments, compassion and love will emerge from deep inside of you. Your mind melts away, you feel in harmony and then become at peace. If you continue to practice yoga and meditation at a deeper level, you will also develop yourself further to become someone of beautiful character with love and peace. Himalayan saints have achieved supreme samadhi. They have connected to unlimited power, infinite wisdom, and infinite love, cleansed the body and mind and transcended them to become oneness with the essence. Thus,
they have reached the stage of super-consciousness. Through this experience, they have been enlightened with truth, that they were able to transform on the inside and evolve themselves to become people of love and peace. By receiving wisdom, love and power from a Himalayan Saint, you can improve meditation at the fastest speed while trusting that you have great unknown power and many possibilities inside of yourself. Essentially, people are pure, filled with love and are beings of peace. Through yoga and meditation, such essential qualities will reappear on the surface; go beyond race, beyond boundaries, release individual attachments and have respect for each other; to then become a person of love in order for the world to become a more peaceful place. In this way, the practice of yoga and meditation leads us to world peace. It helps us to be more natural, we are able to share compassion with others and support each other in a natural manner.
elements as the universe. By cleansing these elements, of earth, water, fire, wind and air (emptiness), the World becomes at peace. There is light and sound in deep places within. These will also be cleansed, through meditation, and as a result, balance is achieved in the universe as well as on the earth. Yoga is the Science of Life. Himalayan saints have been practicing true yoga and meditation for over 5,000 years, since ancient times, and educed the power of mystery inside of human beings. People are great beings, who receive gifts from God and from nature. We are sent to this world in order to become more abundant, encounter the essence and further develop ourselves. I hope more people will practice yoga and meditation, not to waste their lives, instead, to bring peace to this World as well as to harmonize their own body, mind and soul. I, Yogmata, a Himalayan saint, strongly encourage this and pray for your continuing happiness from the supreme level of samadhi.
There are five elements in the human body. The same
Yogmata, Keiko Aikawa, is the first and only woman, as well as only foreigner, ever to become a Siddha Master; attaining the ultimate stage of Meditation and Yoga (samadhi) through harsh ascetic training in the Himalayas. Between 1991 and 2007, she performed eighteen public viewings of samadhi, throughout India, to attest to the truth and promote world peace. She regularly holds lectures and meditation guidance workshops all over the world. In June 2016, she was invited, as a special guest, to the UN headquarters to celebrate the International Day of Yoga and has since given keynote speeches and guidance of meditation, at other UN events, in October 2016 and May 2017. 12
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
Preparing for Silence By BK Mohini Panjabi One of the true gifts in a busy life is an extended period of silence, a time when we intentionally turn our attention away from the rush of conversations and commitments, images and messages, and lists and obligations, and quietly attune ourselves to an inner space.
• For some of us, imposed silence has been a
punishment in our past; for example, a parent may have admonished, “Close your mouth and go to your room.” The silence we are entering here is a choice. This silence is a chance for discovery, to find out new and different things. The absence of talk is quite different when we are choosing not to speak.
• Silence is not a lack of communication. There is a
subtle language that connects us to one another through the eyes, with a smile, or a gesture. Fluency in this subtle language calls for our ability to observe the small details of life. As we develop our facility with this subtle language, we find that we are less dependent on the mechanical devices that can connect us but that can also make us feel more separate.
• In moving into an inner space of silence, we are attuning ourselves to the spirit of nature and letting go of the tendency to be critical.
• Silence provides the opportunity for me to identify
• In silence I discover my innate qualities, the
qualities that are intrinsic to who I am. Here in silence I touch my eternal self, and I come to trust this deepest essence.
• The experience of recognizing my intrinsic and
unique qualities increases my own power to receive. In silence I touch my inner strength and experience trust, faith, safety, beauty, worthiness. It is from this base of inner strength that my actions evolve.
• In silence I can listen to the call of God, the call of nature, the call of others in need.
• Silence is an inner space of learning. When I do
not understand something, I continue to hold on to it. When learning has occurred, I can release it and move on.
• In silence I discover truth by getting in touch with
the true self. Silence increases my capacity to hold the truth within.
• Silence is an opportunity to rest in the lap of my
own greatness. Remember to care for yourself with the special attention you would accord any great soul.
• Silence is a discipline, not of doing, but of being. Use these thoughts about silence as a tray of hors d’oeuvres, picking what you want to support you as you transition into a silent inner space.
the qualities in myself that have the capacity to transform me. In silence I can connect to the highest quality of my lightest, clearest thinking.
• Action emerges from the seeds of thought. Actions are the fruits of these seeds. What is the soil in which I choose to plant the seeds of my thoughts? Violence or peace? Anger or love? These choices are transformative.
• The state of awareness I attain in silence connects
directly to the quality of my understanding. Understanding in sound is a cognitive process, while understanding in silence is more subtle, resulting in realizations that emerge from within. These are very different experiences.
Sister Mohini Panjabi shared these ideas at a Call-of-theTime Dialogue in Uruguay in 2001 as dialogue participants prepared for a day of silence.
Silence with an Aim By Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine
There was an experience I once had in silence that I have treasured and used. Just as sometimes we go in front of elders to seek blessings, or we go in front of God to seek God’s blessings, in the same way I once had a powerful idea come to me, and I chose to keep that idea in front of me, giving it the power of my own good wishes and blessings. Later, I witnessed the very good results that came from this. In the same way, even when I take medicine, I pause for a minute and give my body good wishes so that the medicine will work more effectively and heal and give strength. —Dadi Janki See the Self. Serve the Self When we choose to spend an extended period of time in silence, it is useful to have a specific aim for our silence. One aim might be to come to the realization of my own spiritual identity, to know myself as a spiritual being and to see the world with spiritual vision. There is an inside “eye” with which I can see myself, and an inside intellect with which I can know myself. When I am using this inner eye, I can clearly see what is eternal and what is transitory. In silence I gain an appreciation of what is true, lasting, and creative, and I don’t have to labor over what is false, transitory, or negative. This ability to discern between what is eternal and what is transitory allows me to look beneath my surface flaws and reclaim my self-respect.
See the World / Serve the World There is the tendency to become involved with what is happening in society, with what people are
saying and doing, and to think that I will have to do the same. With an extroverted intellect, I focus on the actions and reactions on the world stage. I may begin to devise techniques to respond to the evershifting scene of circumstances. When I choose my actions under the influence of outside pressures, I limit my capacity to bring greater benefit. When I turn within in silence, I access my introverted intellect, which is the conscience. The introverted intellect allows me to look at the external world with x-ray vision. I can see that many of those who call for peace are consumed with conflict. The spiritual vision sees the disconnection in calling for peace from a consciousness of war. When I enter silence with the aim of experiencing peace as my true and innate nature, from this consciousness I then become a force for peace in the world.
My Intention in Silence
The journey into silence begins with solitude. I 14
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
separate myself from others, but often solitude doesn’t immediately bring peace. In solitude I may initially find myself surrounded with hundreds of swirling thoughts and memories, plans and lists that pull me back into the world of sound. The introverted intellect can work as a filter to help me move beyond those swirling thoughts. The things that are not useful to me will flow out and away from me, and the things that are useful to me will take me to a deeper level in silence.
I came to learn that silence is a very strong power. I compare it with the nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi. Silence amplifies my inner strengths. The power I wielded as President was given to me by the Constitution of Mauritius, but this power I am talking about is personal. I use it first of all to create and then to give expression through my words and actions. When one goes deep inside in search of truth, one becomes more confident and strong, and it shows in one’s attitude and behavior. It is this that convinces people. This is what meditation in silence brings to me. —Cassam Uteem, former President of Mauritius
I know I am entering deep silence when I find that the outer world has fallen away and I am in a state of timelessness, of light. In this state of pin-drop silence, I can sense my concentration stabilizing, and I become aware of deeper patterns of the self. I am aware, for instance, that peace is innate in the self. I experience myself as intrinsically nonviolent. This experience is the seed of future action and moves me to trust that I can return to the field of action, expressing this quality in my work and relationships. There is an absolute, direct link that connects what is happening inside of me to what I am doing on the field of action. If I want to make a difference in the quality of an outcome, it isn’t a question of thinking of a better technique. Rather it is a signal to move into silence with the aim of clarifying my intentions, for they are the seeds of action. A pure intention creates a more powerful result. 15
From our Host Editor, Karuna As a lifelong mentee of Gurmukh, and Host Editor of Light on Light Magazine, I am so happy to be bringing this piece by her to this wonderful magazine for The International Day of Yoga.
Gurmukh swept into my life just as I was ready for her—”When the student is ready the teacher shows up!” For the first seven years of our relationship she mentored me through Level one Teacher Trainings. The greatest part now is that we are family! I will always look to Gurmukh for advice, and she will always remind me that I have the answer within. We laugh a lot and share a deep understanding of who we are in this world. Gurmukh only had to tell me once that my destiny was to teach Kundalini Yoga; I trusted her word. I am forever grateful and truly very fortunate to have this kind of divine sisterhood in my life!
Reflections— With a Meditation By Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
I have been a yoga and meditation teacher for 32 years, and I continually witness the incredible power of this ancient science to uplift the spirit and heart, mind and body. Yoga literally means “to yoke”, that is, to join yourself to the Infinite. The essence of yoga is about relationship…. Yoga is a state of receptivity
from which we can begin to learn and make lasting changes. My spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, brought the technology of Kundalini yoga and meditation to the West. For thousands of years, this was a mystical practice passed in secret from master to
student, but Yogi Bhajan lifted the veil of secrecy and made this powerful technology available to everyday people living in communities where once only ascetics knew it. Yoga and You Our bodies are the means by which we come to know and cherish our connection to the Infinite. Our practice is to awaken the Kundalini, the primal energy that rests at the base of our spine, like the coils of a sleeping snake. Kundalini yoga, like the sound of the India flute player raising the cobra from its slumber, moves this energy up our spine by means of asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control), mudra (hand positions that stimulate centers in
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga your brain), and mantra (repetitive sounds we make to bring about a change in our consciousness). When yoga is practiced, evening a simple form, we are not only strengthening our physical body but are also stimulating and balancing our chakra system. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel.” This of your chakra as spinning vortexes of energy throughout your boy, each radiating a particular energy that is important for your health, happiness and well-being. How does this actually work? This of the energy of your body’s extensive glandular system combining with your central nervous system, creating a state of sensitivity in which your entire brain in stimulated. This fully stimulate brain then integrate signals as they are received. The result is a crystal clarity in your perceptions, your thoughts, and your intuition. That’s why Kundalini yoga is often called “the yoga of awareness”. Yoga is not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance. In our uniquely human capacity of connect movement with breath and spiritual meaning, yoga is born. Body, mind and soul … (are) the three aspects of the human being and once they come into balance, that’s when you find happiness. If you find that peace inside of you, you can almost be anywhere and not be affected by your environment. But if you don’t have that inner
strength and connectiveness, the environment dictates your emotions. … Kundalini yoga gives you the interior peace no matter where you are. An Ancient Science When we apply the ancient skills and teachings of yoga through ongoing practice, we form a communion with ourselves and the soul growing inside us. Our outer and inner selves merge more completely, and we come to know he serene source of strength and compassion that is the very center of our being. …As you begin to use the technology of this wonderful science we call Kundalini yoga, you will see a real shift in your life toward greater well-being and happiness, and will be inspired to devote more of your time to these life-changing techniques, creating a more fulfilled life for yourself, your children, your family and your world in the process. …the knowledge that the ancient practices of the yogic tradition can ignite within you your own innate knowingness. …time-tested techniques, meditations and exercises will help you physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we examine our life as a mythic journey, we may discover the deeper symbolic meanings of our struggles, our heroic battles-whether they are
at work or at home, with our spouse, parents, or children, or addictions or disease. Connecting with the deeper symbolism of what we are doing allows us to know the significance of our lives regardless of whether the cultural markers of money and fame are present. Discovering the deeper personal symbolism of our journey, just as it is, also allows us to know and feel that our lives are deeply meaningful, or to make adjustments so they become more so. Finding Yoga for You Yoga—It’s the most ancient science in the whole world. It’s 40,000 years old. It wasn’t just thought up in the ’80s and the ’90s. And you don’t need anything but yourself and your breath. You don’t even need any equipment. It’s such a built-in ancient technology that just came up. It was lying dormant, you might say, and then in the mid-’70s, it started awakening. And now … everybody’s doing yoga. Find a class in your area. It doesn’t matter what kind. Just give it a try. Everybody’s got yoga everywhere and maybe that won’t be the yoga that you’ll stick with, but you’ll get an experience and then maybe try another yoga class or get a video. And the best test is how do you feel? Do you feel more calm? Do you have more energy? Are you less worried? Whatever it is. Does your back feel better? Whatever it is. And that would be the sign. If you feel sicker and stiffer and more angry or whatever your thing is, then it’s not for you, but I’ve never met anyone that it’s not for them.
A Meditation A Meditation for Creating a Beautiful World This powerful meditation helps to bring healing and peace to our planet…. Sit tall with a straight spine, pulling your chin slightly in, chestout, shoulders relaxed. Place the hands in Prayer Pose at the center of your chest, pressing your palms firming together. Roll your eyes up to your Third Eye point and imagine you are sitting atop a tall mountain overlooking all of humanity, and sending waves of peace over the entire globe. The mantra (say, or, if you know the melody, sing it [note: you can hear legendary sacred musician Snatam Kaur sing it, click here to listen online.]) “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung” is a very powerful sound current and has immediate effects to bring healing to yourself and others. The sounds translate as: Ra = Sun; Ma = Moon; Da= Earth; Sa = Infinity; Say = Totality of Experience; So Hung = I am Thou [can be repeated 40 Times]
Note from the Editors: Gurmukh invited us to share reflections on yoga from her books and articles. Those shared here are from her book Bountiful, Blissful, Beautiful (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004) (marked “B” below) and from Gurmukh’s selected book quotations, as numbered at Awakening.com (marked “A” below). Arranged in meaningful sequences as an article for Light on Light, the sources are as follows, by paragraph (¶): ¶ 1: B-p1; ¶ 2: B-p7; ¶ 3: B-p10; ¶ 4 (sentence [“sent”] 1: A #22; sent. 2: A#27; sent. 3: A#22; sent. 4: A#21; ¶ 5: B-p.11; ¶ 6: B-p.18; ¶ 7: B-p.15; ¶ 8: sent. 1: A#16; rest, B-p.16. We have inserted appropriate subtitles to join the selections. The Meditation is from B, p. 225. Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is one of the most well-known names in international Yoga, known both from her books and her hosting of many events and retreats. As someone recently said, she is one of a few special women known only from their first name. She was born as Mary May Gibson in rural Illinois rural/suburban Illinois). Her spiritual search led her to her teacher and mentor, Yogi Bhajan, who is world famous for his bringing Kundalini Yoga to the West. She is known not only for her teaching of Kundalini Yoga but as a pioneer in the field of pre-natal yoga. She was the co-founder and director of the Golden Bridge Yoga Center in Los Angeles, and is the author of many books and DVDs. Gurmukh means guruoriented person, or one who has realized the Word or ‘naad’. In the highest sense, the term gurmukh means to possess true knowledge.
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
Raja Yoga Meditation: Radiating Benefit to the World By Gayatri Naraine, Brahma Kumaris Representative to the United Nations, New York
The United Nations observance of the International Day of Yoga on June 21st incorporates many branches of yoga, including Raja Yoga. The essential practice of Raja (“royal”) Yoga (“union”) is meditation to achieve a direct connection with the Divine. Traditionally, yogis adopted a path of isolation, leaving their families, adopting a pure lifestyle, and going into the forest to live alone in the search for God. As a result, some assume that Raja Yoga must be a practice that isolates you. However, Raja Yoga, as practiced and taught by the Brahma Kumaris (BKs), does not require this sort of physical renunciation and is accessible to everyone without charge. At its core, Raja Yoga meditation is a practice that enables individuals to reconnect with the authentic self, restore inner peace, and
achieve greater clarity of mind and vision. While inherently a personal practice, Raja Yoga also impacts larger communities, organizations, and institutions in which Raja Yoga meditators live and work. An Individual Practice with Collective Effects Raja Yoga meditation is bigger than just the individual meditator; it has impact on the world. When we meditate, there is an energy that radiates beyond ourselves When many meditate with the same focus, there is a broad impact on the collective. This is because we all connect to the same Source in meditation. We draw energy from an infinite Source, and in turn, radiate that energy out to others in the form of our thoughts, words, and feelings. For example, many
have had the experience of being in the presence of a “peaceful person” who radiates the energy of peace. Being in the presence of an entire community of peaceful people creates an atmosphere of profound peace and calm. The moment we pause in our daily routine and turn our attention inward, we begin to move beyond the limits of things that divide us as people. As we begin to meditate, we remove boundaries, barriers, and separations. We enjoy the consciousness that the true self is spirit/soul. Tapping into our own inner peace and connecting with the Source of peace, we have the awareness that peace unifies people; it is not just for one group or one country. We realize we are part of a large human family and that every one of us is entitled to the same rights to peace. In this way, Raja Yoga is a unifying force. Although we do it individually, there is benefit for the collective. The meditator begins to live in the realm of possibilities and develops courage and commitment to a better world. The Spiritual Trajectory Toward Transformation When Raja Yoga meditators are connected to the Source, a transformation of the individual and the larger community results. This happens through the spiritual trajectory of awareness, attitude, perception, and action. For example, my awareness of having an innately peaceful nature affects my attitude. This change in attitude affects the atmosphere around me and transforms my vision; I begin to see with “fresh
eyes.” With this new vision of peace, every word I speak and action I take is imbued with the energy of peace. We see ourselves as part of the human world family, united by our shared curiosity about God and truth, the desire to be better people, and a commitment to serve. In observance of more than 40 years of service in the United States, the BK is hosting “Om Shanti Conversations” in cities where BK centers are located. These conversations offer listening spaces where individuals are guided to experience the real meaning of “Om Shanti” (“I am peace”) and to explore in a safe and supportive environment their own inner resources for peace and happiness. The public is also invited to join World Peace Meditation Hour held on the 3rd Sunday of each month at BK centers worldwide. For more information visit www.us.brahmakumaris.org. Brahma Kumaris, with its spiritual headquarters in Mount Abu, India, comprises a worldwide network of 8,500 centers in 110 countries and is an international NGO of the UN, accredited with General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In the United States, Brahma Kumaris is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) notfor-profit organization, headquartered in New York, NY.
Learn to see the true nature of things By BK Brijmohan
Enlightenment is that state of awareness in which one sees the true nature of things, which enables one to understand why things are the way they are and respond appropriately. Now, perhaps more than at any other time, the world is in need of enlightened decisions to deal with the myriad problems confronting humankind. A lot of information is easily available to most people through communication technology. But, as the Bhagwad Gita says, mere intellectual knowledge does not lead to enlightenment. It cannot grant one supreme peace and freedom. It is only when one has achieved complete self-mastery and has intense faith and devotion, does true knowledge dawn within and one attains liberation and freedom from weaknesses and the suffering they cause.
about change within to help them overcome their suffering. The enlightened soul does not discriminate or judge, going into who is right and who is wrong. It unconditionally gives its good wishes and pure feelings to all, helping to heal wounded souls and resolve situations. Such a soul keeps giving its cooperation and support even when no acknowledgement is received. It does not hanker for praise or applause: it does what needs to be done and moves on, happy to have been of help and ready to go where its services are needed next. But a handful of such souls cannot change the world all by themselves. Enlightenment is not only an attainment; it is also a choice. We can all choose to be more empathetic and less selfish. This change in attitude is the first step towards rising above ordinariness and living an elevated life.
Intelligence, unless it is guided by spiritual insight, can create problems instead of solving them because intelligence is not necessarily accompanied by virtues that constitute wisdom. Hence, intelligent decisions can be short-sighted or guided by selfish motives.
Many enlightened souls have come from time to time to change the world, in ways big and small. But their messages have been diluted over time, perhaps by those lacking the will and strength to attain the same spiritual heights.
Because of the lack of enlightenment, human activity is slowly taking the planet towards an environmental catastrophe. Poverty, inequality and wars are results of a lack of enlightened thinking.
But enlightened living need not be difficult. All it requires is genuine spiritual effort. When there is honest introspection, a realisation that one needs to change, and where there is the will to effect that change, one is already on the way to success.
An enlightened soul guides by example, demonstrating how to think, speak and act in ways that benefit all, so that one’s actions promote peace and happiness. Such a soul inspires others to rise above selfish attitudes and see the entire human family and nature as one’s own. The love, kindness and generosity of an enlightened soul spreads the light of hope to those who are in sorrow, giving them the courage to bring
There is also a time for enlightenment, when, as mentioned in the Gita, God comes to this world to uplift the righteous, destroy evil and re-establish dharma. All those who heed the spiritual knowledge given by God and live by it, become enlightened. It is this that changes the world from hell to heaven. (The writer is chief spokesperson of the Brahma Kumaris) 20
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
For Amma, Yoga Is Tuning with Our True Self By Brahmacharini Shobana Yoga has been a part of the ashram of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) since the beginning. In 2004, under Amma’s guidance, the Ashram formalized “Amrita Yoga,” with the specific vision of creating a yoga practice that is not just about aligning the physical body, but about refining our mind and, ultimately, connecting us with our True Self. If yoga were just about aligning the parts of the body, then anyone with perfect bodily alignment would be Self-realized. True alignment is an “inside-out” approach. We must align to the inner presence. Therefore, Amma has guided us to make Amrita Yoga about going from movement to stillness, from the gross to subtle. Working from the inside out, Amrita Yoga takes us to an alignment with our True Self. Amma says that yoga is not just the time we spend on the mat. It is a whole lifestyle—a lifestyle in tune with the rest of the universe. The primary way we do this is by living in tune with the yamas and niyamas—“the do’s and don’ts”—of Patanjali Muni: Nonviolence, truthfulness, behaving appropriately in our relationships, simple-living, discipline, an attitude of acceptance to God, etc. If we want to attain the
true goal of yoga—which is union with God—this basic tuning with our fellow human beings and Nature are essential. As Amma often says, “Spiritual life begins and ends with compassion.” Along these lines, there is a story Amma tells: Once there was a doctor who was a devotee of the Divine Mother. He had been earnestly meditating and praying for Her vision for many years. Then, one night, in the middle of his prayers, the Divine Mother suddenly appeared before him in all her splendor. The doctor was overcome with joy and bliss. However, a minute later there was a knock on his door. It was his neighbor; he shouted through the door: “My daughter is very sick. Her fever has crossed 103! We don’t know what to do.” The doctor returned and bowed down before the Divine Mother. He said, “I am sorry. There is nothing more in the world that I would rather do then to be here with you and enjoy your divine presence, but there is no one else to help this sick girl. I will be back as soon as possible. I beg you to please wait for me.” Unfortunately, it was not a quick case. The girl needed to be rushed the Emergency Room. The doctor accompanied the family the entire way. When he returned home, it was hours later. He was sure the
Divine Mother would be gone. But when he opened her door, she was still there, beaming her compassionate smile at him. “I was sure you would have gone,” said the doctor. The Divine Mother replied, “No, I can never leave a selfless heart. On the other hand, had you not gone to help that sick girl, I would have left that very moment.” Yoga is an incredible practice—a blessing passed down to us from the ancient seers of India. It can help us advance spiritually as well as to maintain good health and cure diseases. But unless we hold on to the universal values such as those enumerated in the Yoga Sutras, it will never bear its ultimate fruit. As created by Amma, Amrita Yoga is a beautiful practice and creates a harmonious foundation for our daily life. It will help us attain true unity—with our family, with God, with ourselves. It creates a feeling of Oneness. That is Yoga—Oneness with everything. Brahmacharini Shobana is an award-winning yoga practitioner and teacher. She lives and teaches yoga at the ashram of world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma). She has been the global director of Amrita Yoga since 2004.
Take your wisdom and smiles on the go. #AmericaMeditatingRadio www.americameditating.org AMR celebrated 5 years in April 2018 with 1,100 episodes listened to in 90 countries!
Wisdom from Sister Jenna Challenges, difficulties, and problems are gifts offering us a sign of what we need to let go of that no longer serves the soul at a higher level. There is benefit in everything. Your purpose in life is to live it fully with grace and love. Does your vibration match your grace and joy? If you are positive in your thinking, life will serve you fully. Keeping compassion and peace in our hearts. Sister Jenna is a spiritual leader, author, radio and TV personality, renowned speaker and founder of the Meditation Museum I & II in metropolitan Washington, DC. Selected as one of the Empower a Billion Women 100 List of Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide and served as a principal partner with the Oprah Winfrey Network and Values Partnerships on the Oprah Winfrey Belief Team, a community of individuals from diverse spiritual, cultural and faith backgrounds, and as an influential connector, she coordinated bringing on-board organizations and thought leaders to engage in this global dialogue on Belief. 22
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga
Connect. Integrate. Become One. By Kamlesh Patel ARE YOU CONNECTED? There are so many Yoga schools and classes springing up everywhere around the world these days, and in December 2014 the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as International Day of Yoga, recognizing its universal appeal. International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing Yoga. Yoga provides a way to nourish and refine our body, mind and soul, the purpose being to expand consciousness to its ultimate potential so that we become one with the source of all existence. Yoga is all about uniting, about connecting. It comes from the Sanskrit ‘yadhjyuti ithi yogah’ meaning ‘one that joins.’ Religion also has the same purpose, as the Latin root word re-ligare means ‘to re-join.’ So, if Yoga means ‘one that joins,’ what is to be joined? Actually, so many things are joined and integrated through Yoga—body, mind and soul; worldly and spiritual— but in particular our soul becomes 23
one with its original state of balance. That is the purpose of yogic practice. And the soul, in its own wisdom, is carrying that memory of its original homeland, which is absolute balance. Unless and until we regain the balance that prevailed before the universe was created, we remain restless. Even in the most luxurious life, the heart will still be yearning for something better. Our soul is the carrier of the original memory of perfect balance. Hence, nothing of this world can satisfy us until we attain that state of samadhi that prevailed before creation. And that can happen through a proper practice. Are our efforts actually leading us to the state of Yoga? When we practice asanas, or pranayama, or meditation, what are we joining? Will our daily or weekly practice take us to the state of Yoga, of union? On this International Day of Yoga, let’s reflect for a minute: are our efforts actually leading us to the state of Yoga? When we practice asanas, or pranayama, or medita-
tion, what are we joining? Will our daily or weekly practice take us to the state of Yoga, of union? Asanas are designed to take care of the physical body, and have a purpose, but they are just one very small part of the whole field of Yoga. And they cannot refine the subtle bodies or touch the causal body, the soul. I have spoken about the five koshas—the five layers or sheaths of a human being. Asanas will only affect the outermost koshas—the outermost physical annamaya kosha and to a limited extent the next pranamaya kosha, and that too only in an ephemeral way.1 So by practicing asanas how will we refine the mind? How will we touch the soul? It has to be a combined effort. Ashtanga Yoga is a complete package of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. If we pick and choose just one activity because we like it, then it will satisfy only that one aspect. It will not be Yoga. It is like going to work and choosing to do only one thing that you
like the most. What will your boss think? Likewise, the whole system breaks down when we focus only on yama or asanas or dhyana— nothing will work. We have to find the balance. But ultimately the true state of union comes from doing proper meditation or dhyana, and not every type of meditation is equal in this regard and will take us there. Samadhi is the outcome of meditation. There are various stages of samadhi. In fact, at every new place on our inner spiritual journey from one chakra to another, the states of consciousness we experience will be different. Generally three types of samadhi are described. The first is a totally unconscious stone-like state, where we have no consciousness of the condition given to us in meditation. The second is a semi-conscious dreamlike state, and the most refined, is the light, conscious, natural sahaj samadhi state, which comes after we have traversed the intermediate levels of unconscious or semiconscious stages along the way. Natural samadhi occurs when our consciousness is totally merged in the
ultimate state, at one with that state. In the meantime, samadhi is a work in progress towards that natural samadhi. If we have to understand samadhi properly, sam-adhi, adhi means that which prevailed before the creation. What was the state of our consciousness at that time? We must regain that. Whatever we do in our daily practice of Yoga needs to help us feel connected with our source, otherwise it is not really Yoga. And just as concentration is the result of meditation, Yoga is the result of doing the proper practices. And when we connect with that sublime source, anything else that we do will also be permeated with some level of fragrance from the source. That is why Yoga is also called ‘Skill in action.’ When we are connected, everything that we do will have that fragrance. KARMA, GYANA, & BHAKTI Karma yoga, gyana yoga and bhakti yoga are often considered to be the three different paths to the Ultimate. Karma yoga is all about evolving through ser-
vice and action. Gyana yoga is all about evolving through knowledge and enlightenment. Bhakti yoga is all about evolving through love, devotion and attachment. It is wise to be selective in what actions, knowledge and devotional practices we choose. We need to ask ourselves: In karma yoga, what actions and service will refine us? What sort of karmas can connect us to the source? In gyana yoga, what sort of knowledge can elevate our consciousness? Gyana which can connect us to the source? In bhakti yoga, to whom are we devoted? What form of bhakti will connect us to the source? In karma yoga, any action must elevate the lower self to seek the higher Self. Such actions will ennoble us, and ennoble the very actions themselves, because it is our innate nature to do the best possible. And what about gyana yoga? In his book, Towards Infinity,2 Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur describes
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga gyana yoga as the progressive unfolding of wisdom and knowledge from personal experience on the spiritual journey. He says that gyana in the real sense refers to the inner condition of the mind which develops while passing through different spiritual states at the different knots or chakras. Gyana is, in fact, the realization of the conditions prevailing at each knot. As our inner journey takes us through many knots, the knowledge gained will continue to expand as we progress on that journey. This is real gyana yoga.
we perform karma in a loving way, knowing well the consequences of our actions, then bhakti will naturally develop. If the essence of bhakti is not there, gyana yoga will be paralyzed, and karma yoga will also be paralyzed. Likewise, bhakti without action and without knowledge about what you are going to do is also useless.
And what sort of bhakti leads us to the state of Yoga? Worship in itself hardly contributes to our success. Love is best expressed through the heart, in all facets of our activities.
SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS & SUBCONSCIOUSNESS
For example, at bedtime, when we know we are going to meditate in the morning, are we looking forward to that meditation, to being with the Beloved when we awake? Are we restless to receive Him in our heart? Every bhakta must analyze: How must we prepare our heart to receive the Beloved? With such preparations the heart will automatically yield. If we create such an attitude in our heart that is so inviting, the Lord will have no choice but to descend and be a part of our existence. A beautiful fragrance will then radiate from us. It becomes automatic. Even if a flower is hidden in the crevices of rocks, the bees will find it, so how can God not know about an anonymous being filled with love? We don’t really have to go in search of God in bhakti yoga. Be where you are, be pure, and be loving, and He will come looking for you. Now, are these three paths really separate? In fact, karma without gyana is useless, and gyana without bhakti is useless. There must be a beautiful amalgamation of all three in our yogic practice. If
We have to integrate these three and continue on with a lot of faith, which comes out of experience. We need not have faith in the beginning.
Yoga, when rightly done, will always guide us in the right direction. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, “How should one lead a life?” Lord Krishna says, “Lead a life in divine consciousness.” So, consciousness is at play here. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, through Yoga we are trying to make use of our available consciousness. In meditation with yogic transmission, in no time at all we allow our consciousness to soar higher into superconsciousness, from where we get inspiration. It is a matter of experience. The superconscious is all that is yet to happen—but it tells you ahead of time what to do. It inspires you to do things. When this same available consciousness dives deep into the subconscious, we receive intuitive wisdom. The subconscious is the storehouse of our past experiences. At nighttime, when we offer prayer with a heart full for love, then the sleep that we enjoy after such a prayer is of a different order, a different nature. Yogis call it yoga nidra. Right from the first day in Heartfulness we are able to experience these two states of supercon-
sciousness and subconsciousness. Rishis have died aspiring for this, meditating for hundreds of years yet remaining thirsty for it, because they did not know where to receive transmission. The first Heartfulness Guide, Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh, rediscovered this ancient yogic technique and distributed it to all of us. His successors also passed it on freely. That is our Heartfulness tradition—all are welcome. Yoga, when rightly done, will always guide us in the right direction. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, “How should one lead a life?” Lord Krishna says, “Lead a life in divine consciousness.” Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher of Heartfulness, and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. He oversees Heartfulness centers and ashrams in over 130 countries and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he is also an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of science, blending the two into transcendental research on the evolution of consciousness, and expanding our understanding of the purpose of human existence to a new level. This is an excerpt from the article that first appeared in Heartfulness Magazine, from Daaji’s series on the Evolution of Consciousness: Available at: heartfulnessmagazine.com/yoga-connect-integrate-become-one. Reprinted with permission. 1
Ram Chandra, 2014. Towards Infinity, Shri Ram Chandra Mission, India. 2
A Taste of the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC)
in our mind and in relationships, family, work environment and society. We will raise our children in this spirit and spread peace wherever we go. We will become a radiating nucleus of peace and live the change we want to see.
By Denis Licul
“One in All, and All in One.” If we are able to see and accept ourselves as we are, with our current virtues and weaknesses, we will be able to extend our acceptance to others. We will not judge but rather support what is good in people. We will strive to respond with peace when conflict arises, creating a peaceful environment around ourselves. By becoming compassionate and nonjudgmental, we will see everyone as our brothers and sisters, contributing to our shared humanity with diverse and unique experiences and cultures.
“World Peace in Your Hands” is the founding principle of the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC), an non-governmental organization (NGO) with special consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Peace Council was established as a non-governmental, humanitarian and charitable society, which pursues the improvement of the world’s situation and the welfare of mankind. The Council focuses its work on increasing unity and peace by implementing the messages of Mahatma Gandhi—“Be the Change You Want to See”—and Sri Swami Madhavananda— “One in All and All in One.” These major principles of the Council’s work are essential in achieving unity, peace, and a sustainable future on our globe. Let’s take a closer look at each of these messages and explore how they relate to our individual lives, reflect in our environment and society, and are deeply interwoven together.
Thus, we will understand that although we might wear different clothes, look different, talk differently, we all strive to live happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful lives. We have the same underlying spirit that inspires and animates our actions. We all share this incredible experience of life, and our awareness of that notion helps us realize the interconnectedness and unity of all existence.
“Be the Change You Want to See.” By accepting the notion that world peace is in our hands, we take individual responsibility for our actions. We seek inner peace and clarity, understanding, acceptance and compassion. By taking responsibility, we embrace practices and knowledge that will support our intention of cultivating peace
The founder of the Peace Council is His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, who is also the author and living master of the
Vishwaguruji speaking at the Vienna Conference in 2015
The Richness & Fullness of Yoga Yoga in Daily Life System practiced by thousands around the world. He often reminds us that “helping hands have more value than folded hands.” This principle of positive social engagement inspired him to found SSMWPC in remembrance and in honor of his own beloved master, His Holiness Dharmsamrat Paramhans Sri Swami Madhavananda, who lived in Rajasthan, India, from 1923 until 2003. In turn, the practitioners of the Yoga in Daily Life system actively support the Peace Council objectives and uphold its principles. Those who had the blessing of meeting Sri Swami Madhavananda, whom his disciples affectionately called Holy Guruji, during his lifetime experienced him as an ocean of mercy; a wellspring of knowledge and wisdom; a loving heart without boundaries; an example of devotion, meditation and prayer; a saint and a perfect yogi. Everyone near him at once felt at peace and experienced a profound bliss and serenity. By setting an example of pure devotion to God and service to all living beings, Holy Guruji was and continues to be an inspiration for others seeking the divine truth. Throughout his life, Holy Guruji preached and campaigned for ethics, tolerance, peace, the protection of nature, and the welfare of all living creatures. Like Gandhi, Holy Guruji preached ahimsa—non-violence and respect for all living beings. Gandhi responded to the tenets of modern civilization, of economic growth, of unlimited consumerism by embracing the timeless principles of truth and non-violence, and love for fellow men, as the basis of establishing a blissful relationship between human beings and the divine.
Development Goals and the Earth Charter Initiative as fundamental and necessary principles on our path to a just, sustainable and peaceful global society.
Peace Prayer - Umag, Croatia, 2010 Every year the Peace Council organizes peace conferences, summits, peace prayers and peace tree planting. This year on March 7, 2018, the Council conducted an international conference on “Yoga and World Peace” at the UN headquarters in New York. A similar conference, “Yoga-a Path to Non-Violence and World Peace” took place at the UN offices in Vienna, Austria, in October 2015. The Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council and Yoga in Daily Life are working toward the objective of changing one person at a time, in turn creating happier families and communities and, ultimately, engaging globally. We truly embrace the concept that “world peace is in our hands.”
Gandhi’s message and Holy Guruji’s teachings make us aware that we are at a crossroads of history. It is becoming increasingly clear that if humanity is to survive, we will have to re-examine our concepts of progress and development, and our addiction to having more and more. In the spirit of these two eminent personalities and saints of our time, the Peace Council wholeheartedly endorses the declarations of the UN Sustainable 27
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
A Minute of Silence, Bookends in the General Assembly: A Conversation with Robin Ludwig By Gayatri Naraine
them with an opportunity to reflect on the task before them, on what this body of the UN is supposed to do over the coming months, and on what their individual contribution might be. At the end of the session, each can consider what was accomplished and what he or she contributed. Ultimately it depends on the awareness of the person as to how the minute of silence is used. What is the experience of the General Assembly as a collective? I think it creates a space for delegates to remember what they have in common, possibly contributing to a meeting of the minds later, when they are engrossed in their discussions.
For over 50 years the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) has opened and closed with a moment of silence. In researching the story behind this practice, the question foremost on my mind was, how does this minute of silence work for the delegates who observe it and what impact does it have, if any at all, on the process and nature of the discussions that take place? What follows is a conversation with Robin Ludwig, deputy director of the International Year of Peace, on the significance of the minutes of silence, which serve as bookends in the General Assembly. What was the rationale behind formally adopting this practice in the UN? The proposal to open and close the General Assembly with a minute of silence was made by SecretaryGeneral Trygve Lie: “The members of the United Nations represent people belonging to nearly every religion, creed, and philosophical outlook in the world. It is not possible to introduce a public prayer which will satisfy all tenets and give offense to none.” In 1949 the proposal was adopted and became Rule 62 in the “Methods and Procedures of the General Assembly,” and it reads “Immediately after the opening of the
first plenary meeting and immediately preceding the closing of the final plenary meeting of each session of the General Assembly, the President shall invite the representatives to observe one minute of silence dedicated to prayer or meditation.” What prompted the UN to begin this practice? The idea to have a minute of silence in the General Assembly of the UN was put forward by the Indian Delegation. It was adopted at the 4th Session of the General Assembly. This idea was born during the Gandhi/Nehru era, when India was an example to the world of spirituality and openness. Some people say that it is the only time when there is silence in the General Assembly. What in your opinion is the experience of the delegates when this minute of silence is observed? This practice provides all delegates an opportunity to think about what their presence at the UN means in a broader context. If used for the highest purpose, it offers a good prelude to the discussions. Of course, there is always the possibility that some may be thinking of what they will have for lunch, but at least it provides
There is no other place like the UN, where representatives from so many states of the world come together and work on global issues. It is quite powerful to have that many delegations standing together as a collective and observing a shared moment of silence. They are not standing there only as individuals. The delegates are there representing their countries and their people. It may be that this sense of the collective whole standing quietly together could give them a glimpse of what is possible for the world. What would you tell others considering incorporating silence into public meetings? What I worry about with these types of procedural actions is that it might become formulaic. There needs to be an effort to make it alive and new each time. A minute of silence is a common theme to which people bring something different and it doesn’t hurt to provide that framework and allow for that opportunity. One minute is not a lot of time; it simply creates a pause and gives time for reflection on what one needs to do. Gayatri Naraine has dedicated her life to exploring the spiritual phenomenon of transformation in a world in transition. As the representative of the Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations, her focus is on connecting Sustainable Development to Human Flourishing. Gayatri was born in Guyana and currently lives in New York City.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Sri Chinmoy: Universal Dimensions of Indian Spirituality By Kusumita P. Pedersen Among the many significant spiritual figures of modern India, Sri Chinmoy has made a unique contribution. When he was born in 1931 India was not yet independent, but for a hundred years a new self-definition of India’s religion and culture had been forged by great thinkers, reformers and mystics. In Bengal these leaders include Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Rammohan Roy, and Sri Aurobindo. A universalist and egalitarian philosophy rooted in Vedanta took shape and eventually went far beyond its Indian origins to become a global influence. Sri Chinmoy is part of this stream of spirituality, inheriting it and bringing it into the late twentieth and early twenty-first century with forward-looking creativity. By the time of his passing in 2007 he had become known worldwide as the exponent of an
Previously, even in India, the land where it has always been practiced, Yoga was confined to the limited few. But now the book of Yoga is no longer sealed; it is open to all. —from The Soul’s Evolution, 1976. 29
integral spirituality of dynamic transformation, which embraces all areas of human endeavor as paths of personal and world progress. Sri Chinmoy came from a welloff and cultured Hindu family in Chittagong, the cosmopolitan and multi-cultural port city of East Bengal, today’s Bangladesh. After the deaths of both parents, in 1944 he and his brothers and sisters became permanent residents of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, South India. Here he plunged into the life of meditation and soon
attained yogic illumination which deepened through the years. In 1964, in answer to an inner call, he journeyed to New York to begin his life’s work of teaching and inspiring spiritual seekers of all backgrounds. He dedicated himself to this mission of service for the next 43 years, making his home in New York but travelling widely. He came to be respected and loved by countless seekers
Yoga is union. It is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Self. Yoga is the spiritual science that teaches us how the Ultimate Reality can be realized in life itself. —from Yoga and the Spiritual Life: The Journey of India’s Soul, 1970.
for his tireless self-giving to the goal of peace and his belief in the limitless potential of the human spirit. Today his philosophy is practiced and programs founded by him are carried on by his students in Sri Chinmoy Centers throughout the world. When he arrived in America, Sri Chinmoy offered a simple and powerful message which remained the foundation of all that he did. This core message is that an Ultimate Reality does exist and that conscious realization of this Reality is possible through meditation. This realization is the birthright of every human being and its attainment is the purpose of life. He affirmed that the time has now come for people everywhere to take up the practice of spirituality in its fullest sense, known in India since ancient times as Yoga. He declares, “Who is fit for Yoga? All human beings without exception are fit for Yoga.” All human beings are capable of meditation, without limitation of religious tradition, culture or station in life. Meditation is not just “for the chosen few,” rather, “the art of meditation is inherent in each individual,” Sri Chinmoy
says. He adopts an integral approach, accepting the material world and uniting the traditional paths of knowledge, devotion and dedicated action while emphasizing love above all. In this integral approach of world acceptance, spirituality must play a role in public affairs, and so it was a fulfillment of this vision when in 1970, only six years after his arrival in the United States, Sri Chinmoy was asked by U Thant, the third SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations (UN), to conduct meditations for peace at the UN Headquarters in New York. Sri Chinmoy gave immense importance to the UN in the context of spiritual evolution, regarding it as the focus of “world-oneness.” He held twice-weekly meditations for peace at the UN for 37 years, and they continue today along with an array of other programs organized by Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the UN, an association of UN delegates, staff and nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives. These programs hold up the founding ideals of the UN as stated in its Charter and foster harmony among people of different nations, celebrating their cultures and achievements. Sri Chinmoy composed a number of songs expressing the ideals of the UN and its spiritual dimension. Beginning in the mid-1970s the singers of the Peace Meditation have performed these songs at UN events
and continue to do so regularly, including World Interfaith Harmony Week and programs of the Alliance of Civilizations.
The very aim of practicing Yoga is to have peace, peace of mind. When one acquires peace of mind, automatically one possesses indomitable inner strength. —from Realisation-Soul and Manifestation-Goal, 1974.
After U Thant’s passing in 1974, the U Thant Peace Award was founded by the Peace Meditation to honor individuals who have embodied the values of U Thant. Some of its recipients include President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and The Dalai Lama. These efforts along with others by UN staff and NGOs have over time developed into a growing commitment to a valuesbased approach to critical issues and also an increasing openness to the expression of spirituality within the UN context. In the early 1970s the Peace Meditation began to hold what may be some of the first interfaith programs at the UN. Sri Chinmoy
was a lifelong supporter of the global interfaith movement, first inspired in his childhood by the example of Swami Vivekananda who, as the world knows, was a major figure at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893. Sri Chinmoy looked upon harmony among religions as an integral part of peace and met with many spiritual leaders and members of diverse religious communities for dialogue, always stressing the best aspects of each religion. In silence our hearts can unite without the separation created by thought, and Sri Chinmoy on a number of occasions gave a powerful Opening Meditation in complete silence at such events as the annual Interfaith Service in New York observing the opening of the UN General Assembly and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Another aspect of Sri Chinmoy’s work is a deep involvement with the arts as a means of spiritual transformation. All of the arts are a way to bring inspiration, joy and strength to people whatever their traditions; artistic expression can pass over the dividing barriers of ideology and culture. Throughout his life Sri Chinmoy wrote poetry and composed and performed music. His songs number in the thousands and during his lifetime he offered over 750 free Peace Concerts in many countries, singing and performing on esraj, flute and many other instruments from diverse cultures, with audiences up to 10,000 to 20,000. His written works are very extensive and include many volumes of poetry. In 1975 he began 30
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations to paint and his JharnaKala or “Fountain-Art” comprises a great many paintings, usually in acrylics, of intense color and movement. JharnaKala has been exhibited internationally, including at the Louvre and the UN, as have the Soul-Bird drawings, which symbolize the aspiration of our souls for peace. Today students of Sri Chinmoy engage in a wide array of cultural activities, including the Songs of the Soul concerts where outstanding artists perform Sri Chinmoy’s music in cities worldwide. These events are always offered free of charge. Sri Chinmoy’s innovative joining of spirituality and sports has been widely recognized. An athlete since boyhood, he taught that physical fitness is a necessary condition of spiritual practice. Sports is not only a way to support health and develop concentration and disciple, but also can ben an arena of selftranscendence. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, founded in 1977, today organizes more than 500 athletic events of all kinds internationally, including its highly regarded world-class ultradistance races in which many records have been set. Among these is the world’s longest foot race, the Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race held each summer in Queens, New York, a few blocks from where Sri Chinmoy lived. Since 1987 the marathon team has organized the Oneness-Home 31
Peace Run, a global biennial torch relay for world friendship attracting millions of participants in over 100 countries. The majority of participants in the Peace Run activities are youth and schoolchildren who reflect on the meaning of harmony and “take a step for peace” holding the Peace Torch.
The traditional yogic exercises attempt to place the body in a state of receptivity in order to bring down peace and certain higher forces from above. —from AUM, Vol 1, Issue 1, 1965.
When because of a knee injury Sri Chinmoy could no longer run or play tennis, in 1985, at the age of fifty-three he took up weightlifting. He swiftly progressed to extraordinary feats of strength which is always attributed to God’s unconditional
grace. In 1988 Sri Chinmoy founded the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award; to honor the achievements and contributions of people from all walks of life, he lifted them overhead on a specially designed platform. The honorees eventually numbered over 8,000 people, including luminaries such as President Nelson Mandela, sitarist Ravi Shankar, composer Philip Glass, musicians Sting and Roberta Flack, and Olympian Carl Lewis, as well as hundreds of ordinary citizens serving their local communities.
The work, initiated by Sri Chinmoy and continued by his students throughout the world, also includes a global humanitarian aid program begun in 1991, the Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles, which works with partner organizations ranging from local groups to the International Red Cross and UN agencies delivered in-kind donations to places of need. The aid includes medical supplies and equipment, school supplies, nutritional items, sports items, toys and more. The program is conducted entirely on a voluntary basis. Another key aspect of the Sri Chinmoy Centers International is “Divine Enterprises,” individually owned small businesses such as restaurants, cafes or shops. These provide a livelihood for some of the members while embedding the Center in the local community and serving the community’s
needs in a welcoming spiritual atmosphere. All of these multi-faceted endeavors in many areas—peace advocacy, interfaith, literature, music, art, athletics, and humanitarian activities—are the direct and concrete expression of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy as it is put into practice. They all come from a single vision: the vision of world-transformation in which the establishment of peace, joy and beauty here on earth can be achieved through meditation and dedicated service empowered by divine Grace and our own aspiration or longing for a higher and better life. For in-depth information on Sri Chinmoy and all the activities of the Sri Chinmoy Centers International, please visit the website srichinmoy.org, which provides further details on each of the topics mentioned here and many links to other sites. Kusumita P. Pedersen is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at St. Francis College, New York. She is Co-Chair of the Interfaith Center of New York and a Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She has been a student of Sri Chinmoy since 1971 and has published a number of essays on his philosophy and poetry.
Spirituality and yoga are for the betterment and enlightenment of humanity. —from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 5, #451, 1979. When we practice Yoga, we try to enlarge our consciousness until the time comes when our consciousness pervades the length and breadth of the world. With our conscious awareness, we become one, totally one, with the universe. —from Transformation of the Ego, 1977. When we enter into the field of Yoga, we feel that the love and service we offer to mankind is not for others, but for us, for our enlarged part. There is no such thing as “others.” All are members of the same family. —from “The Universe,” University of Oxford, Keble College, 19 November 1970. Sri Chinmoy, The Mind Loves the Heart, The Mind Becomes the Heart, Part 1, 2003. If a large number of people accepted Yoga, then the face of society would be completely changed. —from Earth’s Cry Meets Heaven’s Smile, Part 1, 1974. When we have learned what we can expect from aspiration and what we can expect from Yoga, world peace will no longer remain a far cry. —from “Spirituality: The Fount of World Peace,” Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, United Nations, New York, 1 July 1971. Sri Chinmoy, The Garland of NationSouls, 1972. The awakened consciousness of man is visibly tending towards the Divine. This is a most hopeful streak of light amidst the surrounding obscurities of today. This is a moment, not merely of joining hands, but of joining minds, hearts and souls. Across all physical and mental barriers between East and West, high above national standards, above even individual standards, will fly the supreme banner of Divine Oneness. — from Yoga and the Spiritual Life: The Journey of India’s Soul, 1970. About Sri Chinmoy Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) dedicated his life to the service of world peace and to the fulfillment of the unlimited potential of the human spirit. He inspired countless individuals through his meditations on peace, his creative endeavors and his philosophy of self-transcendence. He came to the United States in 1964 to be of service to humanity. In 1970, at the invitation of U Thant, third Secretary-General of the UN, Sri Chinmoy began leading peace meditations for delegates and staff at UN headquarters in New York. Since then, the Peace Meditation at the UN has continued holding meditations and as well as programs and concerts to promote world harmony.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Yoga: The Solution for SDGs By Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations address the most pressing challenges that we face as humanity today. From eliminating poverty and bringing prosperity to ensuring health and wellbeing, promoting equality and protecting the planet, these visionary goals tackle a gamut of fields each with specific targets. And the science of yoga can be a very powerful instrument in fulfilling all of these goals. In pursuit of human wellbeing, we have been looking up for a long time—which has led humanity to be divided in the name of religion. Now in the last 50 years, we have been looking out for our wellbeing, and have ripped the planet apart through environmental degradation. Yet, though definitely we are the most comfortable generation ever, we cannot claim to be the most happy or peaceful. Inner wellbeing is not happening because we have not addressed our inner nature. We have tried addressing the fundamental human longing for health, wellbeing and fulfillment of life by looking up and out, but it did not work. It is time to approach human wellbeing by looking inward, in a logically correct and scientifically ascertainable way; this is yoga. 33
Yoga is not a twisting and turning pastime for the well-to-do. The word “yoga” literally means “union.” We are talking about a scientific way of obliterating the boundaries of your individuality and experiencing life in union with everything. Right now, what is me and what is you, is distinctly clear. However, we are breathing the same air, and we are a product of the same earth. What you call as “myself” is just a pop up on this planet and one day it will pop back. But in this short span of time that we have here together, we have divided ourselves in such a way that we cannot meet. Yoga is the technology of obliterating these individual boundaries, not intellectually or as an ideology, but as a living experience. As we try to achieve targets for the SDGs on a global scale, we try to push in one direction but a whole segment of the population is pushing in the opposite direction, simply because they do not see all these people and the planet as theirs. Once human beings’ experience of life goes well beyond the boundary of their physical nature, then fulfilling these SDGs becomes much more possible than it is now. When you experience life beyond your own body, then where is the question of gender inequality or discrimination? Male and female, racial and ethnic divisions are the realms of the physical body. Once you experience everyone here as a part
of yourself, where is the question of poverty and hunger? We are producing more than enough food to feed our 7.3 billion people; still half the population is hungry—because there is no consciousness, no inclusiveness. The fundamental practice of yoga is bhuta shuddhi— to cleanse and take charge of the elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space) that make up the human system and all of creation. When you are in tune with these five ingredients of life, health is a natural consequence—as evidenced by countless yoga practitioners. And when you experience the earth you walk upon, the water that you drink, and the air that you breathe as not separate from yourself, where would be the need to protect the environment? We would attend to our ecology as we would our own body. It is this understanding of our connection to the environment that resulted in the Rally for Rivers awareness initiative to revitalize India’s dying rivers. The month-long campaign gained the support of 162 million people and the Government of India. India’s rivers are largely forest-fed, and the key to restoring them lies in forestation along riversides. Hence, the Rally put forth a policy recommendation to the government: vegetation on both sides of rivers for a minimum of 1 kilometer. This solution has been embraced by six states of India which are gearing up for massive tree plantation—850 million trees. This must be urgently adopted worldwide for all rivers; ecology does not adhere to national boundaries. It has become a fashion everywhere to build right up to the water’s edge, but we must understand there are more ecologically-friendly species that must be
allowed to exist near the edge. Leaving aside what has already been developed, further development must not happen. Above all, it is important that we withdraw the human footprint. This is not because the planet is in peril; the planet will do corrective action and run its full course. It is human life that is in peril. The choice is just this: either we consciously control our populations, or nature will do it in a very cruel manner. If we are human beings, we should do it consciously. This is the essence of being human.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a yogi, mystic and visionary. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru’s work has touched the lives of millions worldwide through his transformational programs. An internationally renowned speaker and author of the New York Times bestseller Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, Sadhguru has been an influential voice at major global forums addressing issues as diverse as socioeconomic development, leadership and spirituality. He established Isha Foundation, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization operating in more than 300 centers, supported by over nine million volunteers worldwide, and has initiated several projects for social revitalization, education and the environment.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Yoga & the SDG’s By Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati
The Indian sage Patanjali gave us the eight limbs of yoga, or what are called “ashtanga” yoga. They include, of course, all of that which we currently identify as yoga: the physical postures or asanas, the breath exercises or pranayama, meditation or dhyana. However, the foundation of the eight limbs of yoga, the first two limbs on the eight-limbed tree are called the yamas and the niyamas. They are the do’s and don’ts of a yogic life. With five of each, they are considered the universal Ten Commandments of a righteous life, of any race or religion. The yamas, limb number one, the very roots of the tree of yoga, include the following: ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), apigraha (non-hoarding) and brahmacharya (sexual restraint/integrity in our sensual relations). The yamas are inextricable, crucial aspects of any true yoga practice. Without them, our asanas become acrobatics or aerobics, not “yoga” in its fullest meaning. If we went no further, if we never practiced an asana, pranayama or meditation, we still, through the first fundamental limb on the tree of yoga, could achieve every single one of the SDGs. I have had the great privilege of being part of several campaigns undertaken by different offices of the UN. I currently serve on a steering committee of the UN and the World Bank for the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty. I have taken an active and enthusiastic part in the Plan of Action to End Atrocity Crimes by the Office of Genocide Prevention and 35
Responsibility to Protect, and I have been honored to speak at programs organized by UNFPA on the rights of women. Additionally, of course, I am privileged to serve as SecretaryGeneral of our Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, which working with UNICEF and other organizations, is dedicated to harnessing the power and influence of faith and faith leaders to bring about a revolution toward water, sanitation and hygiene in India. In all of these cases, the yamas of Patanjali provide us with universal tenets that directly address and right the wrongs. Non-violence does not simply imply that we must refrain from injuring or killing others with guns, missiles or poison. Violence is present in the words we speak—both to others and ourselves. Violence is especially present in the words we speak that incite others. In the United States and other “free” countries, we are granted a nearly inviolable right to freedom of speech, a right which we safeguard, hold dearly and wish that people in every country had access to such a right. Yet, just as my right to flail my own arms around in space (certainly a right to which I am entitled) ends where my flailing arms bop you on the nose, for surely your right not to be bopped on the nose supersedes my right to flail my arms, similarly my right to speak whatever I want ends where your right not to be injured or killed by my speech begins.
Obviously, rape is violent. However, we cannot claim to be adherents of ahimsa simply by distancing ourselves from rapists. If we do not do everything in our power to prevent rape, we are also culpable. If we do not, fully, to the very extent of our influence and impact, do everything we can to ensure that every woman has autonomy over her own body, our practice of ahimsa is incomplete. Similarly, today, our commitment to non-violence must also include ensuring that none of our actions (either of commission or omission) contributes to the suffering and death of our brothers and sisters due to lack of clean water, toxic soil and polluted air, not to mention dearth of food due to the way that water and grain are cycled through animal agriculture. I may not break into someone’s home and steal their possessions or hoard all the apples from our collective apple orchard. However, if through my action and inaction, through my choices in stores and restaurants, our sisters and brothers across the planet are having their land, their water, their food, their safety, their health, their freedom and their dignity stolen then I am stealing from them, in defiance of the tenet of asteya. If my choices of what to eat, what to wear and how to live are not those which embrace vegetarianism, fairtrade and organic agriculture then I am also hoarding—hoarding the water, grain, land and resources of the planet, against the yama of apigraha.
The practice of brahmacharya impels us to exercise restraint and integrity in our sexual relations. This includes, I believe, an implicit injunction to protect the sexual integrity of others. So, no, I must not rape. But I also must not be someone whose silence permits rape and sexual misconduct to continue. It is the fullness of the eightlimbed path of yoga to which our world is turning as we celebrate International Day of Yoga on June 21st. We are not celebrating aerobics. We are not celebrating calisthenics. We are not celebrating stretching exercises. We are celebrating Yoga, ultimate union, a union that—beginning with uniting the body and the breath and leading to a union of body, mind and spirit—takes us into a union between ourselves and the Divine. It is a union of our small, isolated, individual, limited, physical existence, with all of Creation. In separation, the opposite of yoga, the world is made up of objects.
We are each the “subject” of our own subjective reality. Everyone and everything else is an object— the animals whose flesh becomes our meal, whose skin becomes our car seat or belt, the impoverished sweatshop workers who produce our “rock bottom” priced clothes, the precious trees of the Amazon felled by the acre to make room for the grazing of hamburgers-to-be, the coffee and cotton pickers whose children have birth defects due to the toxicity of their pesticide-ridden working environment. In a yogic life though, in a life committed to the awareness and experience of unity we realize that these are all us. Hence, we don’t need to put sticky notes on our computers to remind us to practice non-violence, to remind us not to steal or hoard, to remind us to live a pure life. The practice of “yoga” leads automatically to a life in which our choices are ones made in an awareness of unity and oneness. This is what our world needs. As individuals, to overcome our depression, loneliness and
numbness, we need to feel connected. As a society, in order to function well, we need to be connected and in harmony. As an international, global world family, we need to realize that we are inextricably connected, as Chief Seattle said so beautifully, to “the web of life.” Yoga, a true realization of union, could save not only our health, but also our planet. It is, as I began, what could help us achieve every one of the SDGs even before 2030. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD is a renowned female spiritual leader in India. She is President of Divine Shakti Foundation, a charitable organization bringing education and empowerment to women and children. She is SecretaryGeneral of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, launched by UNICEF, the first alliance of religious leaders for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. She is also Director of the world-famous International Yoga Festival. Originally from Los Angeles, and a graduate of Stanford University, Sadhviji has lived at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, in the Himalayas for 22 years, where she gives spiritual discourses, satsang and meditation, and leads myriad humanitarian programs.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
By Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati
Dusk dissolved into night as we drove. We were on the road to the holy town of Gangotri, driving in delicate spirals through the Himalayan hills. Below, the moon was already dancing across the waters of the Ganges. Ahead, a smattering of isolated villages— split apart by long stretches of nature—was illuminated only by our car lights. Suddenly, something moved, so quickly, from the bushes. It was a human form. Then appeared another one, just thirty seconds later. I asked the driver to stop the car. As my eyes adjusted, I could just barely see the outlines of women walking through the foliage. Some would stop and descend slowly into the leafy folds of nature. Yet, as the lights of cars approached, they would clamber, like frightened deer, deeper into the bush. The behavior was so strange. The reason why, I learned, was tragic. Worldwide, it is estimated that 2.3 billion people don’t have access to proper toilets. In India it is hundreds of millions. The women we spotted that evening were among these: waiting for the privacy of night to heed nature’s call. Risking attack, injury and loss of pride, many have no choice but to perform their most private of bodily functions on the sides of roads for fear of wildlife. Yet, they are similarly
forced to hasten away if a car is to pass, out of deeply-ingrained modesty. From this, they suffer painful infections and excruciating indignity, as do their daughters. Many little girls, I was told, are forced to drop out of school simply because there is no proper toilet facility to shield them from prying eyes. Some will never learn to read. Some will never have the chance to grow beyond the boundaries of their home villages, for the simple deprivation of having had no toilet. My life changed that Himalayan evening. For more than thirty years, I have had the blessing to help communities worldwide build temples. They now grace four continents. Yet on that day, I realized that our society is in far weightier need of something much more fundamental: sanitation. For peace of mind. For the future of our world’s children. For society itself. The focus of my life turned from temples to toilets. Largely as a result of that powerful moment, we launched the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance at UNICEF World Headquarters in 2013, under sponsorship of USAID and the Government of the Netherlands. GIWA is the world’s first initiative to bring together the major faiths to inspire a world where all may have sustainable access to healthy
water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The guiding force behind GIWA’s many programmes is that faith forms a crucial foundation of society, impacting, influencing and determining personal choices ranging from the meals we eat, to the people we marry, to the places we live, and beyond. Given that 83.6% of the world’s population considers itself affiliated with a faith (it’s 99% of the population in India), faith-inspired messages for changed behavior can impact lives as no others can. Today, through our wide-range of programs in just a few short years, GIWA has directly impacted millions of lives on the grand level and the ground level through large-scale interfaith events, far-reaching campaigns, and programmes that include our WASH on Wheels Travelling Theatres, WaterSchool, the Ganga River Institute, the World Toilet College, the Women for WASH Initiative, the Interfaith Humanitarian Network, and the Green Festival Initiative. And the model is working. In the past six months alone, GIWA has led and inspired more than 1.5 million pledges for an open-defecation free India by faith leaders and followers. In addition, evaluations from our recent WASH on Wheels campaign, which touched hundreds of thousands of lives in the Indian state of Bihar, found that 94.52% of the respondents said they were more likely to construct their own toilets after participating in our program. 95.36% of respondents were more likely to tell others to always use toilets, after our program as well. GIWA also has become widely-recognized for its Green Festival Initiative, which focuses on inspiring the masses at enormous gatherings of humanity, including the Kumbha Melas (holy festivals which attract millions). During the most recent month-long Kumbha Mela, independent evaluators determined that an estimated 1,747,800 people were exposed to our messages that promoted the building and use of toilets. It was determined that those who were exposed to our mass interfaith programs and awareness-building activities were significantly more likely to construct a toilet in their household than those who were not exposed to our campaign, with 85% finding our messages useful. As an extension of our work, GIWA is now working to cultivate a new generation of WASH leaders through classes held in schools every day under the WaterSchool program. Through it, students are inspired to love water, and to act as its steward. Our activities include children-led sanitation mapping and planning, clean-ups, the planting of trees, and even a current letter-writing campaign that has inspired students to send messages to make the Himalayan segment of the Ganges River (which is
one of the most endangered rivers in the world) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Leaders for water are what our world needs more than anything. More people perish each year due to lack of clean water than due to all forms of violence combined. By the year 2030, it is predicted that India will have only half the water it needs. By the year 2040, the world will have caught up to this tragic trend, leading to increased threats of hunger, violence, and mass displacement. From great inspiration can come great change, and that is what we are seeing every day through GIWA. To me, this brings an extra bonus, for we have seen that through the coming together of all faiths for a common cause, bonds of friendship and mutualunderstanding also form as never before. As a result, more peace ensues between communities, by bringing interfaith dialogue into progressive action for a healthier, more sustainable world. Just recently, this came to light in a beautiful way as I stood before an audience of thousands of yoga practitioners from over a hundred nations and a multitude of faiths gathered at our ashram here in Rishikesh, Parmarth Niketan for our annual International Yoga Festival. Together, they pledged to take action for water, sanitation and hygiene for all. Many of these people took yoga off the mat for a mass clean-up of the beautiful banks of the Ganges River. As we saw people from these disparate—even warring—nations serving side-by-side, we saw the differences of faith, nations, castes and creeds transcended, as WASH in and of itself, became a great yoga….a great unifier. So now it is the time, to come together, and work together for the world that we all deserve to live in, through the power of our combined time, talents and tenacity. I am sure, in such a way, that only great good can ensue, through WASH as a call of faith. To learn more about the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, please visit www.WashAlliance.org. H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (Pujya Swamiji) is a world renowned spiritual leader. He is President of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, one of India’s largest interfaith spiritual institutions, co-founder/co-chairman of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an alliance of interfaith leaders for water, sanitation and hygiene. He also founded Ganga Action Parivar, leading the massive Clean Ganges Movement, Divine Shakti Foundation, dedicated to upliftment of women and children, and India Heritage Research Foundation, which compiled and published the historic 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. He has spoken at the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and many other prestigious forums. 38
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Mindful Social Justice in
Society and the United Nations By Denise Scotto, Esq. My experience as a practicing public interest attorney, working as staff in the United Nations (UN) Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and holding leadership positions in UN-accredited organizations and professional organizations gives me a broad understanding of the roles of the law and the UN and their impacts on societies. I’ve seen how individuals have a great part to play in the rule of law, the administration of justice and legal mechanisms as well as in the work of the UN organization. At the start of my career as a municipal attorney, I was assigned to litigate in the courts in the City of New York. Some of these cases were far greater than the parties involved and implicated City policy resulting in contact with the Mayor’s Office and speaking with other City officials. The law to me was very big. During this time, I learned a lot about the rule of law; administration of justice; legal processes; access to justice; self-representation or pro se representation; the defense of the defense; equality before the law; due process; human dignity, justice; fairness; equity; reconciliation; restitution; meaningful remedies; witness and victim protection and testimony; testimony through a certified interpreter; contempt of court; jurors and picking juries; listening actively and sincerely; trying a case in the media with the press in high profile matter; 39
judges and some of them with their idiosyncrasies; approaching the sidebar for a ruling; making a record to preserve the objection or error for the appellate court; how to admit documents into evidence; the art of cross examination and impeaching witness; dealing with all kinds of expert witnesses; checking documents in the subpoena record room, and so on. Meanwhile, as a young, female lawyer in a maledominated arena, I had another kind of education as I faced discrimination and sexual harassment at the hands of male judges, attorneys who were representing other parties including co-counsel, court officers and court personnel including judicial hearing officers, jury clerks and municipal witnesses that were supposed to be ‘my’ witnesses working with me on a case. It was an intense period and one where I learned to swim rather than sink under the stress and weight of it all which felt overwhelming and seemed never ending. It’s important for me to note, however, that my borough chief was a former municipal litigator himself, and, at every juncture, he was extremely encouraging, professional and respectful. During this time, I reached out to the New York Women’s Bar Association for support and in a short amount of time, became a Committee Chair and a Board of Directors Member. Through a bar association reception, I met some UN staff members and without understanding the significance
for my future at the time, identified a large law firm to conduct a pro bono review of the UN’s internal regulations and rules regarding sexual discrimination. Because of my municipal background, I understood how the UN worked and was not afraid to speak with high level government representatives or UN staff, people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Since I became a seasoned litigator quickly, I wrote proposal after proposal, offering advice in other areas particularly to the Director of the UN Office of the Panel of Counsel, a resource for staff with internal grievances, Catherine “Vijaya” Claxton. We developed a close connection and laid the bedrock for further change that would come later including the office name change to Office of Staff Legal Assistance. Another important support that was critical to my professional development and my personal empowerment was learning about and practicing meditation. Although my ‘free’ time was limited because being on trial is a 24/7 experience, I attended all kinds of meditation gatherings. Looking back, I remember the various Buddhists teachers including Chinese, Tibetan, Thai, Burmese; Hindus from the United States, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore; TM Meditation teachers; Esoteric Christian teachers from Cyprus; Sufi Masters; and Kabbala teachers. One day, while I was at the UN, Catherine Claxton mentioned that there was silent meditation at the UN in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium and invited me to attend. That was my first introduction to Sri Chinmoy and what I refer to as the ‘subtle work’ in the UN. I found the energy very powerful and decided to attend when I could. As time went on, I continued practicing meditation and found out that Bob (Robert) Mawson offered meditation
inside one of the UN conference rooms in the DC 1&2 buildings so I attended those too. Bob was someone who excelled in an advanced form of meditation, known in the Buddhist community as Dhammakāya. He became the first Westerner invited by the Abbot of the largest temple in Thailand to be taught meditation one-on-one directly by the Abbot himself. After passing tests to prove his proficiency, in 1998, he became the first Western lay person authorized to
teach this form of meditation. Three years later, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk (on a short-term basis), where he instructed people in meditation while wearing the sacred robes. During this time, some of my work consisted of working with member states to harmonize national law and implement law, advancing human rights— women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples—legal empowerment of ‘the poor,’ ‘servicing commission sessions,’ fostering collaboration with accredited NGOs, and serving as a ‘liaison’ with various UN specialized agencies. My work had been focusing on justice but now it became informed by the goals of: equality, development and peace as well as the lives of people in different countries on the ground with immediate human needs. I continued my involvement in issues relating to war, political instability and armed conflict and advocating for Security Council Resolutions relating to Women and Children in Armed Conflict. Angela EV King, Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women asked me to help in her work. She was deciding whether to move forward with what is now known as UN SC Resolution 1325 concerning women’s participation in the peacemaking process. Ms. King and I also worked on 40
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations identifying appropriate women’s organizations and women leaders to participate in Afghanistan’s 2002 Loya Jurga which would elect a transitional government there.
spiritual teachers, yoga masters, transformational thinkers, and healers. We explored universal truths and engaged in what I’ve referred to as ‘subtle activities’ or ‘subtle activism.’
In meeting some of the genocide survivors and in reading testimony from them before the Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and in speaking with young women and girls from Afghanistan, I saw the worst of what humanity is capable. Yet, I also saw the resiliency of the human spirit and the strength people had to create a better life and to create a better world. It was natural for me to become interested in promoting the International Day of Peace and to raise awareness about the UN’s culture of peace and non-violence. From then on, I sought to bring
I’m certain that the combination of the meditations held by Sri Chinmoy, Bob Mawson, and additional teachers and the activities of the UNSRC Enlightenment Society, the UNSRC Feng Shui Group with Professor Lin and others has contributed to the work of the UN. It’s my conviction that it has helped make way for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals or 2030 Development Agenda) to be universal or applicable for all Member States and not just those that are categorized as developing as in the case of the Millennium Development Goals (MDS). I’m confident that everything we’ve done
a different awareness and information about the UN to the professional organizations in which I was involved as well as to local communities.
also set the scene so that the UN GA Resolution marking the International Day of Yoga was adopted in December 2014.
An important resource working inside the UN is participation in activity of some of the staff clubs. UN staff comprise people from all over the world spanning different educational backgrounds, languages, customs, cultural beliefs and religions. The clubs bring people together in an informal, social way for people who may not otherwise interact. They emphasize sharing culture through food, fine art, performing art, special exhibits, concerts and sport. Noteworthy is what is now known as the UNSRC Enlightenment Society which is over 50 years old. The Enlightenment Society presented a variety of events with well-known thought leaders,
As I’ve been editing this special edition and writing my submissions, I’ve had the opportunity to step into the courtroom again, in a different way, as I was called to serve on grand jury duty. This is not trial court where a jury decides a case. Instead, it’s a proceeding that is secretive as jurors evaluate information and credibility of witnesses making a determine whether to indict a person for a criminal offense that could very likely advance to trial. It’s given me a moment to compare my litigating days to what’s happening now in these proceedings with ‘new’ technology and the impact on access to justice and abuse of power, to contextualize the way justice
is accessed in New York City in the larger scope of the US system and those around the world. It’s given me time to reflect again about the concepts of justice, fairness, due process, independence of the judiciary and the overall role of and behavior of members of the legal profession. It’s given me the opportunity to bring a sense of mindfulness to this process sharing it with others. What I’m still learning is that the rule of law and the administration of justice is important to smoothly functioning societies as well as to ones that are harmonious and sustainable. Law is an important tool for change and we need it, yet, change requires more than: having law and legal mechanisms in place, accessing law, implementing law, ensuring equality before the law and due process. Equally important is the remedy—be it money damages, paying someone back, having difficult conversations and apologizing. Using the power of law to empower
all people is significant. But, the foundation of peaceful coexistence lies elsewhere. It is grounded in our awareness of our humanness and recognizing our shared humanity that makes social transformation possible. As most of us agree, yoga, is an ancient practice for people from all backgrounds to tap into their own inner potential for health and vitality. Yet, it is more. The eight limbs of yoga, be it meditation or asanas or pranayama, can provide methods to get healthier, to cope with stress, to build one’s inner strength, to nourish the spirit, to experience an ah-ha! moment, to feel one’s human-ness, to connect to something greater than one self, to fuse with our natural world, to feel an appreciation for the web of life. Yogic principles transcend the mind and open the heart moving us beyond words and can shift one’s mindset. For me, yogic principles mirror the noblest principles underlying the law and the UN: respect, dignity, unity, peace, harmony, interdependence, tolerance, nonviolence.
Denise Scotto, Esq., is an attorney at law, policy advisor, international speaker, interfaith minister, Founding Chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN & Treasurer of the NGO Committee on SVGC. Starting her legal career in the public sector, she was a litigator appearing in courts in all boroughs of the City of New York. Denise held leadership roles in professional bar organizations including: the NY State Bar, the NY State Women’s Bar, the International Law section of the American Bar Association, the UIA. With these associations, she organized numerous events at UN fora as well as at national and local levels on global issues of pressing concern including conducting the first legal education program in NY City and NY State on the topic of human trafficking. As a UN staff member in NY Headquarters, she worked on issues to reform the internal system of justice, then, in the Department for Economic & Social Affairs formulating policy to advance law, good governance and human rights. Denise has held leadership positions in the UN community including: the UNSRC Enlightenment Society, the Values Caucus at the UN, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the UNA-USA New York City Chapter, Bridges of Hope Project, the Source of Synergy Foundation. Denise developed “mindful social justice” which additionally serves the legal profession through her 20+ years of meditation and her connection with diverse yoga masters & spiritual leaders.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Meeting in Safe Spaces By Peter M. Senge
It is tragic that people to whom we give a fair amount of responsibility for our societies and for our social well-being rarely ever get to have real conversations where they can talk honestly about their hopes, their fears, their concerns, their personal dilemma—the kind of conversations that all of us rely upon for a sense of connection when we are dealing with difficult things. The consequence is people who we look up to and count on are very isolated as human beings, and I think they suffer a great deal. We don’t tend to think of them as suffering, because we see them as powerful. Yet, when we are around them, we can immediately feel all the constrictions they carry. This is why we in the SoL (Society for Organizational Learning) community have gatherings like the Executive Champion Workshops, where leaders gather for honest conversation. Last August we had such a gathering in a place where we have convened many times before—in Stowe, Vermont. In Stowe we erect a large
tent in a beautiful field looking out at the mountains of Northern Vermont. It is an extraordinarily peaceful setting. One of the participants in this meeting last summer was Mieko Nishimizu, a Vice President of the World Bank for South Asia, a position she has held for about six years. Over the course of several days together we spoke about the Kyoto Protocols. Mieko said, “You know the Kyoto Protocols are not perfect. They do have flaws. If you had been in the meetings that produced the Kyoto Protocols, you would understand why they have flaws.” This led her to talk about the difficulties of bringing political leaders together, when they have to really think together, and the failures surrounding these attempts. Then she just leaned back on her chair, looked up at the tent we had been meeting in for three days, and said, “If we had been able to have the meeting in a tent, it might have been different.”
Mieko believes it is very important to create “safe spaces” for the political leaders to meet. I think certainly you can extend this to other forms of leaders—to all of those who are in significant positions of formal authority and who make decisions that impact a lot of people. They are very much constrained in being able to serve since they lack the opportunity for real conversation. The lack of an opportunity among our leaders for real conversation and meaningful connection affects the kinds of decisions they make. The decisions we get out of our current political decision-making processes are often simply compromises that everybody can live with. They are often one party’s will imposed on everybody else. As people in these kinds of meetings come to realize that they really don’ t have political clout, they just try to negotiate to get a little bit of their interest included. As a result, they never get to the real possibilities. It is always a process of reducing, and we, the global public, end up with less than we could have.
Imagine if leaders could come together around important decisions in conversations that expand the possibilities, conversations filled with insights, ideas, and fresh perspectives. They might find themselves making decisions that nobody would have anticipated. When you really have something creative happening, it is a building process. In a sense, it comes down to the simplest definition of good conversation versus bad conversation. Good conversations are engaging. Time slows down. You really feel the meaningfulness at a very personal level. In the end, something emerges that wasn’t there before you started. Contrast that with decision-making meetings where something is on the table even before you start, and collectively you whittle it down so that everybody can live with it. There is one other aspect about decision-making meetings that I think about often: we get too obsessed with the outcome, with producing high quality decisions. All decisions are flawed and incomplete. They are the best we can do at the time. The important issue is how can we go about implementing and learning going forward. The real crux of any decision-making process is to get headed in a direction that has possibility. And then, if we are open, and if we do have some trust among the group, we
start to tap into our collective intelligence. If decision-making were to happen as part of an ongoing conversation, then the learning process might take place in the course of our making a decision. Then we might notice that the conversation has taken us to an entirely different place, and realize, “This is not what we thought before. We were working with the wrong assumptions.” We would be open to seeing that, but of course exactly the opposite happens in most decision-making. People have their personal egos and their public personas invested in the decision, which means that
they can’t say that it was a bad decision. I think most of the harm comes from that dynamic. It is not the decision-making dynamic, but it is the attachment to appearances and the absence of a learning dynamic that most limit our progress in decision-making. Look at your personal life. I think that most of the decisions I have made in my life were wrong. Few things turned out
the way I expected them to. But once I notice that, I can say, “That’s interesting. Let’s make an adjustment here.” That is the way living systems work; they are always in an adjusting process, and yet that is not what we get at all in most decision-making processes. If we thought of our decision-making as part of an ongoing learning process, it would be easier for us to acknowledge uncertainty and error and unintended consequences. I think the principles and the process we use for the Call-ofthe-Time Dialogues could be very relevant here. Imagine if, before any scheduled decision-making meeting, people were invited to a half-day session for honest conversation, reflection, and personal connection with others like themselves. I personally think there is no reason to be too conservative or tentative in offering such a session. I think people are wide open to direct experience of deeper awareness and to spiritual reflection as long as you are up-front about it. If people understand they are going to spend a half-day with some time of quiet, some type of meditation, and a chance to begin to talk more openly with others, completely off the record, I think they would be grateful. People understand the failing of the current approaches and the consequences of not really being 44
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
able to talk honestly. Imagine if we found a way to be able to respond to opportunities as they develop, so that when a meeting is going to occur, we could arrange for those involved to set aside a half day at the beginning of the meeting to come together and really just be together. It would be a shock to the system. It would take a little getting used to but imagine what might happen if people started to get used to having this safe space in which to prepare for their meetings. They would come to expect it. They would be able to plan on having some quiet time up front to get to know each other, a chance for completely confidential, off-therecord conversation. Of course, this might be difficult for those in a negotiating mode, because everyoneâ€™s mind would be racing with what they are going to have to give up in order to get what they want. They might be concerned that talking honestly might make them feel as if they were making themselves vulnerable prior to 45
their negotiation. It would be like two fighters who decide they are going to hug a lot before they get into the ring to fight! They prefer to hate each other. They want to work up animosity toward each other, to work up a kind of competitiveness. On the other hand, particularly if they were in a setting where there is a larger collective aim such as that of the Kyoto Protocols, safe space would provide enormous benefit. In situations such as these, people arrive with a concern about their national sovereignty and the potential cost to their country, but there is a transcendent goal that they really do agree to. We all know we need to do something about carbon dioxide going up into the atmosphere and about other aspects of global climate change, and we know that it has to be done collaboratively. So that was Miekoâ€™s idea, and that is why she thought it was important. She was not exactly sure of the best way to do it. It
has to be with real people in real settings, which is why she reacted positively to the spacious tent in the big field in the mountains. It canâ€™t be in artificial settings. I think the only thing to consider is who and when to do it, and how to do it in a way that there is a greater likelihood of its being successful. The most important part of the idea is what might happen if a norm begins to develop so that for certain types of meetings, people start to anticipate that there will be an advance meeting in a safe space. I think this would come to be a reinforcing process for more effective and more meaningful decision-making.
Forgiveness and the African Renaissance By Thomas Odhiambo For half a century I have been in the science business, a worldview that suggests that God is not very important. In fact, one well-known scientist, under rational circumstances, has explained that understanding the world and natural laws does not require God at all. It is, he suggests, an unnecessary hypothesis. So, when I encountered the idea four years ago that I, Thomas, am really a soul and that the soul is immortal, I was extremely moved. It was simply wonderful news to me that I am immortal, a child of God, and therefore connected to all other souls.
for the present and the future. We need to forgive and forget.
This is a very lonely position. As I began to speak with my colleagues about it, they raised all kinds of As the idea settled in, I found myself mulling our questions: How can we miss this opportunity of the situation in Africa in light of this new awareness. North paying for what they did? Isn’t it right that they If we are all connected as souls and connected to should contribute to our development, especially God, then why are we not caring for one another? that proposed by the New Partnership for Africa’s Why does poverty exist in the midst of the most Development (NEPAD)? Isn’t it an accepted practice revolutionary scientific discoveries and fantastic all over the world that if you do wrong, you pay a technological innovations in human history? Why is there so much revenge and retribution? Why is there fine? Why shouldn’t we follow that route? If we were to follow this route, humanity’s well-trodden path so much aggressive competition? of revenge and reparation, the African Renaissance, which the creative implementation of NEPAD About this time, I began to work in a structured presently promises, would likely not happen. What forum consisting of heads of state from different Africa needs, and indeed what the world as a whole parts of Africa to look at this intensifying issue needs, is a change from victim consciousness and of poverty. I realized that it is not a question of a turning of the back to the practice of reparation. economics but rather a question of the direction I have come to believe that asking the North to pay of the focus of the soul or spirit. What are our won’t bring about any transformation for them or for intentions? How do we apply our core values, our love, and our commitment to our present and future? us. In the last two years I have come to believe that the real blockage to positive transformation of Africa is something quite subtle: the sense of hurt that has been here since the slave trade and the colonial period. How can we remove this hurt that has been with us for so long? Do we have to avenge the wrongs of this period in order to move ahead? As I have thought about mansa seva (Hindi for “serving through the mind”) and the kind of mind we must have in order to serve the world, I have become convinced that we in Africa are putting too much energy into the past, that we need to use our powers
We are on a memory lane re-constituting the pain of our ancestors, creating an environment of revenge. We need to get out of this memory lane and be in the present lane. The past is an episode of the past. Accept defeat, forgive, and begin to heal the scars. Only this, I believe, will remove the most significant blockage to our development. After that, we will move very fast because a sacred place will have been created in our hearts and minds. At the time this article was written Thomas Odhiambo was the Chairman Emeritus of the African Academy of Sciences. 46
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council: An Instrument of Peace & Unity By Kripadevi Denis Licul The Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC), a philanthropic NGO, has organized more than a dozen international peace summits, forums and conferences in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and United States, and numerous peace prayers and inter-religious initiatives. In July 2012 the Council was granted Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The founder of SSMWPC, Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda (Vishwaguruji), says, “World peace is possible when all religious and political leaders practice tolerance, recognition and respect for all religions, cultures and nations. Our prime duty is to awaken the consciousness of forgiveness, brotherhood and oneness; that we are all children of one God. There is one religion to which we all belong – humanity.” SSMWPC Conference “Yoga and World Peace” The conference “Yoga and World Peace” organized by SSMWPC in cooperation with the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN, and UN Staff Recreation Council/Enlightenment Society, was held at the UN headquarters in New York on March 7, 2018. The aim of the conference was to reinforce the UN’s efforts on behalf of world peace, non-violence and yoga, and to spread the recognition of their intrinsic interrelationship. Eighty well-wishers from all walks of life—religious and political leaders, heads of academic institutions, members of civil society, and members of the Yoga in Daily Life community—contributed to the event’s success.
Speakers and YIDL delegates at the Yoga and World Peace Conference, UN, NY 2018
SSMWPC Conference “Yoga in Daily Life—a Path to Non-Violence and World Peace”
On December 4, 2016, just a few days after UNESCO inscribed yoga on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, an international conference “Yoga in Daily Life—a Path to NonViolence and World Peace” was held in Prague, Czech Republic. Hundreds of delegates listened to inspiring talks by political and spiritual leaders, leading academics and physicians, and artists at the historical Lucerna Palace in Prague.
SSMWPC Conference in the historical Lucerna Palace in Prague, Czech Republic
SMWPC Conference “Yoga—a Path to Non-Violence and World Peace” In 2015, the international conference ”Yoga—a Path to Non-Violence and World Peace” was held at the UN in Vienna. More than 200 representatives from governments, NGOs, and academia around the world gathered to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence and explore paths to peace.
Participation in Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development At this 2012 conference—which marked 20 years since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992— Vishwaguruji presented the Desert Rainwater Harvesting Initiative, a humanitarian project in India supported by SSMWPC. Representatives of SSMWPC and members of Yoga in Daily Life organized a meditation led by Vishwaguruji for the Rio conferees, providing a welcome break from the proceedings. The group also led the planting of a peace tree on the conference center grounds, with the participation of UN and local officials, to be a lasting symbol of commitments made at the historic meeting.
SSMWPC Peace Tree Planting The SSMWPC initiative of planting peace trees around the globe is aimed at reminding people of their unity with nature and environment. Vishwaguruji has led the planting of more than 80 peace trees in 18 countries, including the one at the site of the Rio+20 conference, shown here. Peace trees will stand forever as symbols of peace among religions, cultures and nations; and all who are seeking comfort and relief shall find peace and harmony under their branches. “This tree stands here for us, for peace. We all seek peace, but this peace has not yet been created. Day by day actions of hatred and wrath occur. As we said in the prayer before, the power of peace lies in understanding and forgiveness. The tree is here for life, it is like a mother and a father for us; and it is here in every situation, no matter whether angry people pass by or dangerous animals; it stands in cold and heat, in rain, storm, ice and snow. Under all these conditions, the tree will be here, just like a mother for her child, no matter what happens.” Vishwaguruji planting third peace tree in Carinthia, Austria
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
By Dale Colton
Namaste is a traditional greeting in India used when people meet. It is often used as a way to end a meeting as well. Although it originates in India, Namaste has come to be used throughout the world. Much of this can be attributed to the study of Yoga. It is important to remember Namaste is not meant as a casual greeting but was given by ancient Wisdom Teachers as a means to show students deep respect for their Teachers, and the Teachings, and, as an expression mindfulness of others. It uses the recognition and acknowledgment of the Divine within each of us. In so doing, the person places his or her hands at the heart chakra in prayer fashion and expresses that acknowledgement. Although it is normally thought to be a greeting, unlike the word Hello or Goodbye in English, the word Namaste actually shows respect towards others and is a reminder of who we all are. In Sanskrit, the word namah means to bow and te to you. Meaning “that part of me which is Divine is bowing to the Divinity in you.” Meeting another person, is really the recognition of Souls not Personalities. When we greet one another with Namaste, it is a way of honoring and remembering That Divinity within each of us. “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Imagine a world where that was truly understood by all. I can clearly remember my mother taking me to the UN for the very first time. I was 12 years old, so she gently impressed upon me that this was a very special place
where people from all over the world came together to help each other. She encouraged my interest in learning who they were, because, as she said, the world is filled with interesting people with wonderful traditions, clothing, languages, and foods. She told me we had so much to learn from each other. It filled me with excitement. She instilled in me the very thing the UN represents. I have had tea with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in her garden at her home in New Delhi and with the members of the Royal family in Nepal. I often recall that once while walking on a road in Nepal, I met a group of Nomads and their goats along the road. They invited me for tea and we all (including the goats) went into their large tent to have tea. We could not speak a word of each other’s languages, but we had a wonderful time. The ladies showed me their jewelry and children and the men laughed. My teacher came looking for me calling my name, and, I announced that I was in the tent. When I came out, he wanted to know how it was possible for me to be visiting there, and, I explained to him whose children belong to who, etc., making the introductions. I think of that experience often and I am reminded of the words of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s song, Wooden Ships, where they sing: “If you smile at me I will understand, ‘cause that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language” How wonderful that the UN recognizes Yoga and has dedicated a portion of time each year to do so in support of the evolution of consciousness—giving voice to transformational exchanges that meet the challenges of these troubled times. My mother would be pleased.
Dale Colton has a Masters’ Degree in Counseling and Public Relations and has over 25 years’ experience working as a consultant in Public Relations, Promotion and Publishing, helping individuals, centers and organizations that make up the global grassroots spiritual/socially conscious community. She is currently on the Administrative Circle and Operations Team of the Evolutionary Leaders and is on the Advisory Board of the Source of Synergy Foundation. She also has worked as a Consultant and/or Promotion Agent for a number of the Evolutionary Leaders. She served as a member of the Operations Team and a Consultant to the Alliance for a New Humanity, a humanitarian organization founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra. There, she cocreated with Deepak “Be the Change,” an international community outreach movement- presenting community programs internationally. For 20 years Dale Colton was a member of the Board of Directors of The Himalayan International Institute, an early leader in the consciousness movement. She was the Director of Public Relations and Promotion. She served as a member of the faculty, organized and led Himalayan Excursions to India and directed the annual International Conference, and Directed Himalayan Publishers. In addition, she owned and 49 operated wholesale and retail import businesses that created scholarships and funded charitable projects in India.
Raja Yoga Meditation: Generating Well-Being in the United Nations
many of my colleagues. I came to learn that one of the specialist officers had a bleeding ulcer, another one had developed high blood pressure at a very young age, and others had various other ailments.
I started working at the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) after having run a Municipal Women’s Office, serving women survivors of violence, and after having worked in a nongovernmental organization (NGO) with girls who are victims of sexual exploitation.
It was in this context that I suggested to the UNFPA representative that we might offer a space for meditation and invite anyone who would like to participate, suggesting that it was a way to create an environment of greater peace and balance. She agreed, so we created a space in her office that we called the “healing corner.” At lunchtime, we dedicated 15 minutes to meditation practice.
By Marianne Lizana
I have also been practicing Raja Yoga meditation since I was 19 years old. I always enjoyed spending time in silence, strengthening my connection with my own inner peace and deepening the relationship with God, the Supreme Being. From that young age, I opted for a vegetarian diet. I think these practices have helped me to maintain a perspective of hope, even though I have been exposed daily to stories of injustice and abuse. When I started working at the UNFPA, I was very happy because
I would be able to support compliance with women’s rights from a wider scope and benefit more people. However, adapting to the new job presented a significant challenge. I had to learn thousands of acronyms (the UN has its own dictionary!). I also had to wade through the many declarations and resolutions representing the various attempts at reaching international consensus on human rights. And with a higher level of responsibility, the chance of making mistakes was also much higher. Initially the pressure was manageable, thanks to the fact that my work colleagues were very supportive, and we shared similar principles and values, which facilitated our work together. However, the deadlines for delivering results and the variety of projects and activities produced a tense environment that affected
The biggest challenge was getting everyone to stop, turn off the computer, and dedicate that time to reconnecting with the self. However, as we continued to do the collective practice, we began to see an environment of greater harmony emerge in the office. We tried to maintain those “good vibrations” even in the daily tasks. As people from UNICEF and UNDP (United Nations Development Program) got to know about our 50
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations “healing corner,” they began to join us. This had an impact on our conversations. We were not only talking about the situations in the country, in the family, or at work, but we also started to talk about something that had previously been taboo, our personal experiences and spiritual searches. In our eagerness to respect all beliefs and religions, we had stopped talking about our true existential motivations, for fear of imposing on or discrediting the perspective of the other. Having the freedom and confidence to share a space of peace turned out to be an innovative practice that helped us to know each other better. Something so simple can greatly improve any space of human coexistence. In my professional practice, I have continued to work on the subject of violence against women. Even though I am a psychologist and have respect for everyone’s beliefs, I decided to invite some of the women survivors of abuse to participate in open spaces for meditation and reconnection with their inner truth. Meditation creates a safe space for one’s being, beyond the influence of fear and violence. What I noticed is that this practice helped them to maintain clarity about their own motivations, feelings, and needs. In this way, we created a space that we call “circle of wisdom.” In the circle of wisdom, each woman is on the same level, and the life experiences of all are important. We try to deepen our understanding around selfdevelopment, studying, and
practicing silence and meditation. For example, we recently addressed the issue of “how to observe without absorbing.” Each one shared from her personal experiences how she visualizes that capacity applied in her family and in her work. Then we did some introspection exercises in which we placed our attention on our inner strength. From there, we let go of all external influences of situations with others and created an experience of self-love and confidence.
I have noticed that the consistent practice of putting attention on the self reinforces one’s sense of personal power, and that women began to give themselves permission to take time for selfcare and for meditation. Meditation is a universal tool which anyone can practice. For me, it has offered a space to recharge daily with the spiritual energy of God, which has kept me afloat in the midst of the most challenging circumstances.
Marianne Lizana is a Psychologist, Meditator, and a Specialist in Gender Issues. From 2008 through 2014, she worked as a Gender Focal Point at the National for UNFPA in Costa Rica. Since 2014, she has been a consultant for the United Nations, NGO’s, and different Universities in Costa Rica. From 2001 to 2007, she served in Moravia Municipality as a Director of Women Affairs Office. Since 2005, Marianne has been the Director of the Brahma Kumaris in Costa Rica.
In Meditation: Where Change Begins By Bob Perry Of the many thousands of people who pass through the United Nations (UN) compound in New York City, few are aware of the Meditation Room. Even fewer enter the room. It is a space of austere beauty and tranquility. The Meditation Room as originally constructed was redesigned by Dag Hammarskjöld— the Second Secretary General of the UN. It is a place that honors stillness and silence. The business of the UN does not intrude upon this space. But its purpose is in service of the work undertaken in the “house” of the UN— Hammarskjöld’s term for the UN Headquarters. That purpose is contemplation, reflection, and silent meditation. “We have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence,” Hammarskjöld wrote. “This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.” But why place a meditation room in the UN’s workplace? Meditation is a form of yoga. Today yoga is widely known, and practiced, as a physical discipline. But in the ancient contemplative traditions the goal of yogic practice was to integrate mind, body and spirit—or soul. Hammarskjöld recognized that it is in a state of contemplative quietude that we develop the capacity to engage the world with integrity, with grace, and with love. Absent attention to the inner stillness, our actions will be compromised. In his journals, published posthumously, Hammarskjöld was unguarded in his spiritual yearning. But he operated in the world of international politics. In this world, he observed, “the road to holiness passes through the world of action.”
In the Buddhist tradition it is the bodhisattva that seeks inner transformation in the service of social transformation. The bodhisattva undertakes contemplative practice with the intention of ameliorating human suffering. To master this role, one must seek within and, with right intention, engage the world. We might think of Dag Hammarskjöld as the bodhisattva at the UN. David Loy suggests the bodhisattva is a “spiritual archetype” that offers a hopeful vision for humankind today. In the path taken by the bodhisattva, he discerns a lesson for those who would serve humanity. Begin within; and then open to the world. The poet Gary Snyder has also walked the path of the bodhisattva. He explored this dharma during the political and social ferment of the mid-Twentieth Century. This is his teaching: “The mercy of the West has been social revolution. The mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both.” Robert (Bob) Perry began his meditation practice in 1999—an undertaking he refers to as a mid-life blessing. For over 25 years he has worked as a lawyer in the area of civil rights and civil liberties serving in the courts and in legislative and policy arenas. He is particularly interested in contemplative disciplines to support movements for social justice. As a trainer in Heartfulness Meditation, a form of raja yoga, he has presented programs on the use of meditation practice in the service of personal growth and societal change. He is a member of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN.
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Initiatives of Yoga In Daily Life By Kripadevi Denis Licul
The purposes of Yoga in Daily Life (YIDL) are charitable and educational: to promote physical, mental, social and spiritual health as well as world peace, humanitarian aid, human rights, and protection of all living beings and the environment. As a global network of non-profit organizations, YIDL contributes humanitarian projects in rural India such as providing education for women, health care, clean water, and animal protection; and engages in tree planting world-wide. Rainwater Harvesting The Desert Rainwater Harvesting Initiative is aimed at alleviating poverty and providing a reliable water supply to some of the most remote populations in rural Rajasthan, India, who have been in the grips of severe drought. The project utilizes traditional Rainwater Harvesting techniques to provide a sustainable model to be used in drought affected areas throughout the world.
Jadan Talab filed with the water from monsoon rain
Jadan Talab—the water basin under construction
Jadan School In 2002, to contribute to the achievement of Universal Primary Education (SDG 4), on the premises of the Om Vishwa Deep Gurukul Swami Maheshwarananda Ashram Education & Research Centre, “Om Ashram” or “Jadan Ashram”, located in Jadan, Rajasthan, India, YIDL established a primary school to enroll underprivileged children of rural India. Jadan School now delivers education from pre-school levels to bachelor’s degrees for over 1,500 students. The Gyan Putra scheme of Jadan School provides free transportation, textbooks, uniforms and free meals to the most deprived children to help them emerge from extreme poverty. To promote Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (SDG5), educational services are offered free of charge to all female students at the Jadan School.
Students gathered around Vishwaguruji in Jadan
Girls in the computer lab, Japan School
Reforestation The joint Forestation and Tree Planting program (SDG 13, & 15) of SSMWPC and YIDL, which has led to the planting of well over 15 million trees, was initiated HH Vishwaguru Paramhans Maheshwaranda as an integral part of the Voluntary Commitment titled “Awareness & Action: Peace Conferences, Tree Plantings, Clean-ups & Vegetarianism” pledged at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. The Jadan Ashram has a long-term project of reforestation. To date approximately 200,000 trees have been planted in a bid to ‘turn the desert green’. The Ashram’s organic farm aims to be a model for the local area, as local farmers tend to use pesticides heavily. Research is ongoing for the production of natural pesticides from the local Neem tree.
Jadan Ashram during summer monsoon season
International Day of Yoga Celebration International Day of Yoga (IDY) is celebrated worldwide by the YIDL international community. In several countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Czech Republic) YIDL partnered with the Indian Embassies in organizing IDY celebration programs, as well as offering countless free programs in YIDL centers, parks and community venues.
IDY—Family Festival of Yoga, Chakra Park, Mozirje, Slovenia
IDY Celebration in Zagreb, Croatia 2017
Yoga & the Work of the United Nations
Reflections on IDY By Shakuntala “Molly” Roopan
June 21, 2016 is a day that stands out as one of the most memorable days in my life. It was International Day of Yoga (IDY) and I was at the UN attending an event where Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev was the Guest of Honor. I had been following Sadhguru for some time on YouTube, and like so many others, I was thrilled to be in his presence. Looking back on this day, I realize that I’ve met people who made a profound impact on me on a deeply spiritual level. On that day, I also had the grace of meeting Yogmata Keiko Aikawa who is the very first female Himalayan Siddha Master of non-Indian descent to attain True Samadhi. What a joy it was to meet her and receive her blessings! I never dreamed that I would be meeting Himalayan sages in the middle of New York City or practicing yoga postures fostering good health and well-being at the UN. What a wonderful experience it was, and, in retrospect, the UN seemed to be exactly a place where people of various backgrounds and cultures should come together to promote health and well-being for humanity as a whole, through the means of Yoga. Before attending that event, I communicated with Denise Scotto, Chair of the IDY Committee at the UN who was instrumental in my being there. She is a remarkably brilliant and kind person who makes it her mission to help and uplift others in the best possible way. She continues to inspire me every day. The committee as a whole consists of individuals who are dedicated to fostering growth and empowering people on multiple levels including developing the attitude of a healthy body and healthy mind.
Photo of yoga teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch
for the benefit of others; Amma Sri Karunamayi who dedicates her life to serving humanity with her charitable projects and her dedication to world peace; Pilot Baba who is another Siddha Yoga Master who selflessly works towards the upliftment of others. I also met the beautiful and graceful Tao Porchon Lynch who As a member of the greater UN community, I can share inspires me daily through her long life about being love, and to take a positive approach to life. My life is how I have benefited tremendously from associating with them. I have incorporated Yoga in my daily routine definitely changing for the better as I continue to grow both on the physical level as well as the spiritual level. in my spiritual quest. I wake up looking forward to each day, taking Tao’s motto to heart, “This is going to be the My diet has changed so that now I’m a vegetarian by best day of my life!” choice. Mentally, I find that I’m less stressed and am mindful in the way I interact with others. I also take a Shakuntala Roopan (Molly) is a graduate of Pace University more inclusive approach to life and try to help as many with a B.A. in Psychology. While earning her degree, she ways as possible to make the world a better place. This worked as an assistant to the Vice Dean and Academic translates to a more harmonious home environment Advisor. Upon graduating, Molly became an Underwriter in for both for my children as well as my spouse. In the years following my first IDY event, the IDY Committee has provided me the opportunity to meet special people such as Sadhvi and Pudja Swami, whom I consider to be enlightened masters working tirelessly 55
Commercial Property Insurance at the American International Group (AIG), a multinational finance and insurance corporation, where she performed underwriting for some of the largest commercial properties in the country. She is currently a stay at home mom who enjoys taking care of her children, reading, yoga, meditation and philanthropy.
YOGA & HEALTH
Ayurveda ~ The Eternal Healing Science We Need Now! Ayurveda is pramanam, that which is an eternal system of health and wellness for all generations. Ayurveda, a vast healing science, is the world’s first known medicine protocol to be classified into eight branches which are collectively referred to as Ashtanga Ayurveda. The branches are internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, treatment of the eyes, ears, nose, throat and head, toxicology, geriatrics (anti-aging) and aphrodisiac therapy. Evolved from the Vedic tradition with a logical foundation, and having survived multiple cultural invasions in India, its perennial wisdom provides a powerful universal model for personal health care and healing. The saga of man’s struggle against disease is as old as civilization itself. As the world advances and as environment and disease patterns change, medical science also changes. However, Ayurveda’s unique system of mind-body medicine remains essentially timeless. For it is based in fundamental principles of Mother Nature. The origin of Ayurveda is attributed to Atharva Veda (one of four Vedas) where mention is made of several diseases with their treatments. Later, during the Samhita period which
spanned the 6th Century BC to 7th Century AD, there was a systematic development of the science when a number of classical works were produced by erudite scholars who formatted Ayurveda into an organized system of medicine for contemporary medical care. At its core, Ayurveda is a preventative, health-oriented system as opposed to conventional medicine that is a disease-care system. There is a growing trend among allopathic practitioners worldwide who are seeking “alternative” methods of healing of incorporating Ayurveda’s mind-body healing practices. From their perspective, adapting principles of Ayurveda
By Maya Tiwari can only improve the quality of contemporary health care. For Ayurveda, health is a balance between the elemental processes of the mind-body that are originally preset by nature. This balance interacts between three types of energies, each of which is called dosha, or that which can easily goes out of balance. Dosha configuration in each individual determines their body type—Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. The doshas associate with the elements—space, air, fire water and earth. Vata (air) is responsible for cardiovascular activity, respiratory function and movement. Pitta (fire) is linked to metabolic process of
YOGA & HEALTH disease prevention, Ayurveda’s documented success with treating lifethreatening and difficult illnesses is unprecedented. Some of the more severe illnesses treated successfully are tumors, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, heart disease, arthritis, gout, and infertility. Successful treatment with Ayurveda also applies to contemporary psychological problems such as fatigue syndrome, eating disorders, substance abuse, stress and depression. the body, and Kapha (water) to its anabolic functions. The equilibrium of the doshas bears a delicate relationship with the physiological, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the person and is key to providing the practitioner with preemptive proof of potential disease or dysfunction in the making. It is designed to prevent illness and promote wellness by balancing mind, body and spirit through a vast variance of practices which include: massage/marma therapy, yoga, meditation, nature’s seasonal foods and herbs, lunar and solar influenced rasayanas, and therapies that cleanse and rid impurities from the body. While its primary purpose focuses on
Ayurveda is more than an alternative medical system. It is a communal way of life that espouses the ancient art of integration and cooperation. We build bridges that connect the human family to each other and to their immutable source in consciousness. We find that unity and authenticity are accomplished when diverse cultures, traditions, and sciences are preserved rather than marginalized or eradicated. Each day, we marvel at how the interdependent relationship among diverse cultures do bring about communal peace. After all, inner harmony is the bedrock of health, and wellness. The health we cultivate predicts the degree of happiness we experience.
My ancestors understood love as foundational to nature. They recognized that harmony is produced only by cooperation with nature, and her creatures. They advocated, ahimsa, nonviolence and peaceful coexistence with the animals, forests, streams, skies and ethers. As sentient beings, the Ayurveda ancients safeguarded harmony by extending reverence to nature as a whole. In observing Mother Nature, they learned to sustain wholesome communal living. They did not compromise the life force that supported the wellbeing of themselves, family or community. Instead, they worked hard at keeping love and harmony alive. They were expert foragers who knew the cadence of nature and what to sow and reap as the seasons cycled onward. They harvested herbs, roots, fruits, and legumes without bludgeoning the forest or animal members of their community. Our forebears taught the great big animals to harvest the land, uproot dead trees, clear pathways, and carry loads, transporting their families and goods from one place to the next. They sheared their fur to make beddings and other items to keep the family warm. They used their vegetarian feces to make fuel for the fire; their urine as antiseptic for various cleansing applications. In return, these consciously domesticated creatures provided on-going sustenance of peaceful foods—eggs, milk, and honey. Together, man and animal forged a bond based on mutual respect, cooperation and something far more priceless—love. By adhering to their humane duty and keeping harmony alive they were investing
sweat, love, and reverence back to Mother Earth. Love and harmony are the cornerstones of intelligence which sustain humanity. We have much to learn from our ancient forebears and much more to be grateful for. Modern culture is beginning to recognize what the Ayurvedic seers knew eons ago, that nature’s pristine life force, prana, supports every form of life. They understood that food, breath and sound are the templates— primordial umbilical cord—that connect us to the Mother Earth. In the legendary words of Bhishma
in the Mahabharata: “Neither was there, nor, will there be a higher gift than the gift of life, Pranadanat paramadanam na bhutam na bhavishyati.” Five hundred years or more of blatant disregard for Mother Nature is ferrying us deeper into chaos and disharmony. Evidenced by the rapidity of nature’s disasters that surround us; the physical, emotional, and spiritual ire of the human spirit, the progressive rise of disease, violence, poverty, wars, and crimes; the breakdown of familial and community values;
and unconscious acts of violence against our animal friends, the memory of our humanity is being severely tested. At this pivotal juncture of our history on Earth when technological advances, commercial and economic progress are inevitable, it is critical that we restore the knowledge of Ayurveda as a revelational science to help us nourish, nurture and heal. This great reform is necessary if we are to preserve the pure and eternal wisdom of Mother Nature.
Maya Tiwari is a spiritual teacher and humanitarian who serves humanity by awakening the spirit of ahimsa, or harmony, in every person whose life she touches. She is also a Ayurveda pioneer and best-selling author working in the field for more than 30 years. She established the first Ayurvedic school in North America in 1981, the Wise Earth School of Ayurveda. Tiwari is also founder of the Mother Om Mission (MOM), a charitable organization in at-risk communities in New York that transforms disease and despair into wellness and joy. She has personally helped thousands of women to heal from devastating disorders. Through her global humanitarian work at Living Ahimsa, participants are taught to spread practices that promote peace and create inner harmony. She is a regular Featured Speaker at the Parliament of the World Religions and other Inter-faith conferences worldwide. Tiwari is also the recipient of AAPNA’s Rishi Award for her outstanding work in Ayurvedic medicine. For more information please visit wiseearth.com and mayatiwari.com. 58
YOGA & HEALTH
The Science of Mindfulness By Deborah Norris, PhD
The science of mindfulness has swept the field of integrative medical research like the rising sun over a vast landscape. Over a decade ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest research organization, began studying the clinical health benefits of mindfulness meditation. Researchers have since found that meditation has multiple health benefits in a wide range of applications. Mindfulness practices can reduce inflammation, relieve chronic pain, boost immune function in people diagnosed with cancer, and resolve symptoms in people diagnosed with heart disease. Enough evidence now exists that NIH, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and other major health organizations all recognize mindfulness meditation as a part of the medical standard of care for treatment of chronic pain. With growing evidence that meditation has significant health benefits, scientists have sought to understand the physical effects of these practices on our biochemistry and even our genes! Biochemical studies have found that not only does our body chemistry alter our behavior, but also that our behavior can alter our biochemistry and our mood. Drugs such as anti-depressant medications are prescribed on the assumption that there is a biochemical imbalance, and that by taking a drug, we can alter our biochemistry and improve our mood. What researchers have found is that through mindfulness practices we can alter our own biochemistry in a way that restores balance, optimal function and well-being. People are meditating because 59
it makes them feel better, and in reality, they actually are better. In exploring these physical effects of mindfulness meditation, researchers have studied not only the biochemistry of the brain and the immune system, but also changes in the structure of the brain itself. What we have found is that the brain responds to specific practices just as our muscles respond to specific exercises. Mindfulness practices focused on sensations of the body cause growth in the region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex—responsible for self-awareness, self-regulation and self-control. Alternatively, mantra meditations involving the repetition of specific words results in growth in the language portions of the brain. Ecstatic meditations such as Kundalini result in growth of the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that regulates sensations of reward and satisfaction. Just as in weightlifting, if you exercise your bicep muscles you will soon see growth and improved function of the biceps. However, you will not see changes in the quadriceps or hamstrings. In sum, we have learned that what you practice is what you get; the type of meditation you practice affects the physical outcome. Most recently, researchers have explored the epigenetic effects of mindfulness practices on our genes. Dr. Richard Davidson, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and colleagues, have demonstrated that just one day of meditation significantly alters genes associated with inflammation. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn at the University
of California San Francisco has shown that meditation results in increased levels of telomerase, the enzyme responsible for putting the telomeres back onto the end of our chromosomes. Medical researchers have long considered the gradual deterioration of chromosomal length as the definition of aging. Given that meditation reverses this process, some scientists have suggested that by definition this means that meditation reverses the aging process. After over a decade of research on the clinical benefits and mechanisms of action of mindfulness meditation, a new question is arising in the science of mindfulness: What is it exactly that meditators are doing that has such profound health effects? Dr. Sarah Lazar and colleagues at Harvard University have identified key elements of the practice. Specifically, Dr. Lazar suggests that paying attention to sensory experiences in the body is a key to activating the healing potential of the brain. Known by several names, this process is referred to as “ interoceptive awareness,” “body scanning,” or “noticing felt sensations as they arise.” Interoceptive awareness activates the largest nerve in the body known as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for transmitting sensory information from all of the sense organs throughout the body, to the brain. It picks up and processes information from the eyes and ears just as it does information from the heart and the gut. Even inflammatory sensations are processed through the vagus nerve. Sensory information is transmitted from the vagus nerve through the brain stem to the thalamus and then to the cerebral cortex where it becomes an experience of conscious awareness. The thalamus is known as the gateway to the consciousness. It determines what sensory information is transmitted from the body to the consciousness, and what information is blocked from conscious awareness. A common example of thalamic gating is our ability to filter white noise from our consciousness. By focusing our attention, extraneous information is filtered from our conscious awareness. Open monitoring in mindfulness meditation invites the thalamic gates to open and bring greater awareness into the consciousness, expanding our awareness of the experiential nature of life.
Not only does information travel into the brain through the vagus nerve, but the brain also sends signals back out through the vagus, coordinating activities in the body. When the thalamic gates are closed to incoming information, they are also closed to the coordinating signals coming from the brain. For example, when we close our consciousness to incoming sensations of pain, perhaps by diverting our attention elsewhere, or simply choosing to ignore it, we also block our ability to coordinate the healing of pain. My research and that of others has shown that when we open our awareness to let the sensations of pain into our consciousness, we also open the pathway to healing our pain. Scientists have yet to identify another element of the practice that most mindfulness practitioners recognize as essential—awareness of the breath! If the thalamus is the gateway to the consciousness, the hypothalamus is the key to this gateway. Located immediately below the thalamus, the hypothalamus has neural projections that activate the gates of the thalamus. During times of stress or fear, the hypothalamus sends messages to close thalamic gates, so that we may focus intensely on fighting, fleeing or finding our way to safety. A buildup of carbon dioxide activates orexin neurons in the hypothalamus to signal danger and to intensify our focus. When we hold our breath, we activate the fear response, and close the thalamic gateways to our consciousness. When we close our minds and limit our consciousness, we limit our ability to feel and to heal. Breathing deeply and replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen deactivates the orexin neurons and actually unlocks the gateway to our consciousness. Simultaneously becoming curious about sensate experiences as we breath, opens these unlocked gates, and literally opens the mind and expands our consciousness. I define mindfulness meditation as the practice of being in curious awareness of the experience of being and breathing. The breath calms the brain and allows the thalamic gates to the consciousness to open. Curious awareness is the act of opening the thalamic gates. By sitting and breathing in a state of curious awareness, we experience the sense of the expanding consciousness, and we unlock the vast healing potential of our brains.
Deborah Norris, PhD, C-IAYT, E-RYT500 is Founder of The Mindfulness Center™, based in Washington, D.C., author of In the Flow: Bridging the Science and Practice of Mindfulness, and numerous published chapters and articles. She is Editor-in-Chief of MindBodyJournal.com. A neuroscientist by training, Dr. Norris is Psychologist-in-Residence and Founder/Director of the Psychobiology of Healing Program at American University, and past professor at Georgetown University Medical School. Internationally renowned for her online meditation teacher-training program, SOMA, The Science of Mindful Awareness, Dr. Norris is an acclaimed speaker and educator on mindfulness, yoga therapy, and integrative mind-body medicine. 60
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The Beneficial Impact of Yoga on Health and Well-Being
By Padmini Murthy MD, MPH, FAMWA, FRSPH
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined human health in its 1948 constitution as “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The practice of Yoga helps to maintain health as defined by the WHO. Derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. Yoga is a powerful tool to improve one’s health and well-being and in the past two decades there have been scientific studies which have shed light on how the practice of yoga can help to improve the overall health of individuals and communities. Globally researchers, academicians and health care professionals have found the benefits associated with the practice of yoga to be multisystemic. This article discusses the systemic benefits of regular yoga practice. 1. Benefits on Nervous System A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders conducted in 2016 by Vedamurthachar and colleagues found that the practice of Sudarshana Kriya Yoga helped to reduce depression and decrease in stress hormones (cortisol) in 60 alcohol-dependent subjects. Another study conducted in 2015 on 133 adults 53 to 96 years of age who practiced 30 minutes of yoga twice a week showed an increase in their cognitive function according Mc Dougall, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. 2. Benefits on Cardiovascular System There have been several studies which have showcased the positive effect yoga has on cardiovascular health as was shown to lower blood pressure in people who are hypertensive by restoring baraoreceptor sensitivity. Practicing yoga regularly has also shown to decrease lipid levels in healthy individuals as well as patients with coronary artery disease. Many centers across the United States are now including the practice of yoga in many cardiac rehabilitation programs. A study conducted by Siu and colleagues published in 2015 in the Journal of Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome showcased the benefits of yoga on 182 middle-aged Chinese males who suffered from metabolic syndrome (i.e., with high levels of blood sugar, abnormal lipid levels and excess body fat around the waist), yoga reduced their risk for heart disease by reducing their body weight and high blood pressure. 3. Chronic Pain Reduction A study conducted by Gamus and colleagues in January 2015 which was published in Israel medical associations Journal Harefuah reporte the benefits of yoga in treating patients with chronic neck and low back pain. 61
4. Benefits for Cancer Patients A study conducted in Ohio State University by Dr Glaser and associates found that yoga practice twice a week by breast cancer patients for 3 months helped to reduce inflammation, increase energy levels and help to improve the mood of the women enrolled in the study. 5. Benefits on Women’s Health A study by Wu and colleagues which was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in May 2015 showcased the benefits of yoga in reducing the mood swings among women who suffered from premenstrual syndrome. A study which was conducted in India by Rakshani and Colleagues published in the Advances in Preventive Medicine in 2015 discussed the benefits of yoga among high-risk pregnant women as it improved maternal and fetal outcomes in the group that practiced yoga on a regular basis. The American Osteopathic Association has highlighted the benefits of yoga practice for women as it helps to strengthen their muscles, increase flexibility, improve cardiovascular and respiratory benefits. The benefits of regular practice of yoga are being recognized globally and the proclamation of June 21st as “International Yoga Day” is an important step in advancing the practice of yoga to improve the health status of communities and meet the “Sustainable Development Goal 3 which is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.“ On a personal note I would like to share my experience of practicing yoga regularly, especially pranayama for the past 8 months which has helped to reduce my severe respiratory allergies and nasal congestion significantly. I would highly recommend the practice of yoga to my fellow global citizens as it’s a way of life and can play a huge role in promoting health and well-being.
Namaste! Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, MD, MPH, MS, FAMWA, FRSPH, is Professor & Global Health Director at NY Medical College. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing medicine and public health for the past 28 years in various countries. She has an MPH and a MS in Management from New York University and is a Fellow at the NY Academy of Medicine. She serves as the Medical Women’s International Association NGO representative the UN and promotes safe motherhood and other health initiatives focused on women in India, Malawi, Grenada and Nepal. She is widely published and is the author and editor of Women’s Global Health and Human Rights (Jones and Bartlett publisher) which is used as a text book worldwide. Dr Murthy is the recipient of numerous awards such as: the Jhirad Oration Award; the Soujouner Truth Pin; Millennium Milestone Maker Award, the Blackwell Medal and the Dr Lata Pawar Oration award. 62
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Yoga, Health & Well-being By Anjali Grover, MD As a fellow co-traveller on this journey, I have often contemplated the true meaning of good health and well-being. The wholesome definition given by the World Health Organization is that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” It is this very state of balance that we are all seeking. One of our biggest blessings in life is good, balanced health—something that I think we take for granted. I like to see our bodies as a sacred shrine—a nice “home” for our many organs and glands. It is truly amazing and a miracle how trillions of cells in our body work together—tirelessly—in harmony--even when we are sleeping, without US doing anything to make that happen. The human body is a marvelous machine, designed so intricately. How beautifully the cells communicate with each other to make basic bodily functions happen all day, every day. Each cell doesn’t work for itself, individually, but works for the greater good. Our physical body is our tool with which we see, perceive and interact with the world. In its original state of good health, the body, not only functions properly, but also has the intuitive capacity to know when we are out of balance. However, we are living in an age where time seems to be speeding up and we push our bodies. We all seem busier, eating quickly and at wrong times; sleeping at wrong times; leading sedentary lifestyles. We are also living in a time where food is more processed. Eating “clean” food requires more preparation, which requires time, a commodity that is becoming scarce; and so this has contributed to our vicious cycle of physical disease and inner dis-ease. The body has lost its innate quality of being in balance. As a result, we are amidst a serious health crisis. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and obesity are increasing, at epidemic rates, and they are appearing at a younger age of onset. Millions rely on doctors for support during these times of physical dis-ease, and many hope for some kind of medication or cure. However, despite all of our medical advances, true health and wellness is a rare phenomenon. As a health care provider, I have observed and recognized the importance of not just masking or treating symptoms, but, getting to the seed of the problem. Equally important is empowering the patient to activate their own healing capacity—reawakening their will to get well and be well. Patients are not simply satisfied when the numbers on their blood work look normal. They want to feel normal. They want to feel healthy. They want to feel balanced. As 63
observed, there has been a growing trend and adoption of holistic remedies and lifestyles—from more natural, wholesome, plant-based diets; a trend towards physical detoxification, and several disciplines of yoga. The practice of yoga manifests in two general forms— exercising our body AND exercising our thoughts. The many beautiful forms of physical yoga—such as Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini yoga—indeed have many benefits such as increased flexibility and focus, improved energy and vitality, balanced cardiovascular and circulatory health to name just a few. However, this all still alludes to benefits that lead to good physical health. What about our well-being—emotionally, mentally, spiritually? Is our being feeling well or just our body feeling well? In a deeper sense, yoga—through the practice of meditation—is the process of recognizing and reminding ourselves of our being—the one that experiences life, the one that acts, the one that sees, the one that speaks. Yoga reminds us of the intimate connection between the mind and body. That basis of that connection lies in the power of our thoughts. Our mind has tremendous creative and thinking capacity. By reminding ourselves of our own capacity and redirecting our thoughts to enjoy a pure and positive state of mind can be truly empowering to be active participants in our own health and healing. As a health care provider, where our focus has been on determining the root cause of a disease and not just treating symptoms, it is important to think about what seeds of health and wellness are we watering and nourishing. The true illness is that we have forgotten to believe in our own greatness, in our own healing capacity, in the power of our thoughts, in the power of our being. And the medicine is yoga. So, my dear fellow travellers on this journey of health and well-being, let’s switch on that light of awareness and remind ourselves of what it truly means to be well, and the most natural, readily available remedy to achieve that. My best wishes to each one of you and enjoy the journey. Namaste and Om Shanti. Anjali Grover is currently a practicing physician. Given her meditation practice, her main mission is how to integrate this practice into personal healing and mainstream medicine.
Yoga For Seniors
Remembering the Way We Were, Loving Who We Are Today..............................................by Jana Long Increasingly, older people are seeking integrative practices to support their health and wellness. Classes in yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Ayurveda and mindfulness techniques are enrolling more seniors, defined as adults 60 years and older, than ever before. Sometimes a “wake-up call,” due to an injury or an acute or chronic disease diagnosis, serves as the catalyst that drives them to seek alternative or self-care practices for health management. More often, it is the realization that their bodies need an age-appropriate regimen of maintenance and care. I understand, first hand, this special population because as an older yoga teacher, I share the journey of aging with them. My students are my peers and we can openly converse and amuse about the impact of age. My experience of primarily teaching yoga to older adults began in 2008 after completing a certificate course at Duke University’s Department of Integrative Medicine focused on
the therapeutic application of yoga for seniors. Research over the past few decades has shown hatha yoga, or the physical practice of
performing postures, to help older people remain functional, active and vital. Yoga is a relatively safe way to encourage movement, relaxation, promote joint health and flexibility, restore balance, improve strength, stamina, and provide a degree of pain management for overall health and wellness. Studies also show improvement from a low impact yoga practice on arthritis, diabetes, insomnia, depression, and other physical conditions that arise with aging.
Yoga for seniors can also address the psycho-emotional challenges of aging that might be overlooked in “regular” yoga classes. An experienced teacher can help create space for a deeper experience of yoga that extends beyond the physical. It may open seniors to develop new patterns of behavior based on adapting, accommodating and accepting the many changes in their bodies. It can be difficult to face the winter of our lives. The springtime of youth, the long hot summer of adulthood and the beautiful maturity of fall have all passed. In our winter season, dryness sets in and the integrity of the muscle and bones weakens and joints stiffen. We find ourselves slowing down and our capacities and capabilities declining. We may become dependent on medical and pharmaceutical aides to help us manage which can result in diminished self-esteem. Despite these changes, like winter, there is beauty in this season of life. Yoga for older adults provides the opportunity to develop a practice of stillness and quiet for deeper introspection and reflection. When I plan yoga classes for seniors, I often think of Barbara Streisand singing, “The Way We Were.” Seniors spend a lot of 64
YOGA & HEALTH time looking back and comparing who they were to who they are today. When we do this, our new limitations loom large. There may be trepidation about not being able to “keep up” in yoga classes, and although seniors range in physical capabilities, many yoga classes miss the mark of offering adaptive yoga practices. Even the most active seniors may be challenged and not able to keep up in more athletically focused yoga classes where the lines blur between yoga postures, acrobatics and gymnastics! Additionally, many yoga teachers do not receive adequate hands-on training to appropriately adjust postures or know how to use props and chairs to accommodate the older practitioner.
Finally, a big bonus of yoga for seniors is community engagement. Yoga classes can become a centralizing force that brings seniors together with their peers at a time in their lives when the bridges that built connections and friendships in the past—jobs, children and spouses—have eroded and we may feel more isolated. Yoga breaks down the illusion of separation and we realize we have a vital role to play in the world as part of the collective cosmic consciousness.
need pull-ups and have to focus on our balance because we tend to fall more frequently, just as we did when we learned to walk. We may have lost teeth and require softer less spicy foods. But, rather than see this as a setback, we can rediscover our youthful spirit, and once again like toddlers, see the world with renewed curiosity and wonder. We have another chance to release habitual patterns of thoughts and behavior that no longer serve us and to start anew. There’s nothing to lose.
I often tease my seniors that we are once again toddlers. We may
But, seniors owe it to themselves to let go and not spend their energy looking back lamenting about the way we were. Nor, do we need to project into the future, because we know where it is ultimately headed. Use this opportunity to be fully present in the moment and enjoy what is available Now.
Jana Long, E-RYT-500, C-IAYT is the founder and director of Power of One Yoga Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She specializes in the therapeutic application of yoga for seniors and acute and chronic disease management. Jana is an Ayurvedic life style consultant who focuses on self-care practices for preventive health. She is a certified Master Gardener in Baltimore City and a community educator who raises awareness around ecological sustainability. She enjoys sewing, cooking and jewelry making. Jana was initiated into the Satyananda yoga tradition whose central teachings are “serve, love and give.” She is co-founder and Executive Director of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance. 65
Writing Conscious Music To Help The Soul Shine Again – After Trauma By Paul Luftenegger International Multi Award-Winning Singer/ Songwriter/Composer www.beekindness.com
where I began to listen to my inner voice with full clarity. I remember staring at my reflection in my parent’s bathroom mirror that morning, and, seeing through my pupils looking back at me, that I was alive on the inside—even though my entire life on the outside was destroyed. It was the first time I had ever really felt my inner-ness with divine loving presence flowing through my heart and soul and being whole with God. In my healing space soon after my father’s suicide I began to meditate. I knew I needed meditation to be part of my daily healing practice as everything in my inner being was guiding me to go within to find God’s divine peace at my core. My inner guidance shared with me that I will never have peace in my life again until I have peace within myself. I also began to go to nature—I needed nature like I have never needed anything before—nature was like my healing-oxygen. To be still with the birds, to hear the water, to see the trees, and to experience the flowers, still blooming in real time—to ultimately see that life surrounding me was still growing and expanding. Nature reminded me that my life was still moving forward even though I felt stuck in space and time, infused with so much trauma after seeing my father hanging by a rope.
On March 6th, 2011, my father who was 56 years old sadly took his own life. At the time of his death I was 34 years old. That horrible, cold March snowy morning at my parent’s home in Canada was and still is the hardest day of my life being a human being on planet Earth. It is also the most beautiful day because God came to help me when I needed God the most. I will always remember sitting at my parent’s kitchen table with the police officer the morning of my father’s suicide—he was asking me billions of questions—while he was asking me questions, I was asking God to help me as I felt I was about to collapse in my grief. God repeatedly told me that morning that I was going to be ok and that God would help me get through it all. It was the day of my great awakening where my soul began to unfold and
I loved how nature didn’t judge me but rather held me in its cocoon of God’s great divine design. I loved how the birds still sang even though my heart hurt. That Autumn in 2011, Oprah Winfrey was launching her new television network, “OWN,” and I was
YOGA & HEALTH In 2017 in New York City, I shared the stage with Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, PhD, at a UN event. Right after the event, he came up to me and kissed me more times than I could ever begin to count with pure joy beaming from his heart thanking me for my music, sharing my story, and my truth—a moment I eternally treasure. I remember thinking to myself that I was finally ok again, like God had promised me in 2011. watching a special on her new show “Masterclass.” The message she said that changed my life forever was that, “I am a miracle and that because I am here, I mattered.” Very soon after this profound moment where I knew the Universe was speaking directly to me through Oprah, I began to sit at my piano every single day, writing conscious, kind, loving, music for the world to help inspire global love and kindness from within the listener.
For anyone out there suffering from anything, please stop, go within and find your heart and connect your soul. Remember that you are never without your source (God). Recharge your inner Lightbody everyday by brining God’s Divine Love within you and never forget that because you are here you matter! You really, really, matter and the world really, really, needs you!
Fast-forwarding to today—I have had the most extraordinary life experiences answering my call from God; my life’s purpose meeting God’s call to help the world with positive kind messages wrapped inside my music from my heart and soul. My music since 2011 has been used to honor wellness icons like Louise Hay, requested for contract by shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” was celebrated by the greater UN Communities on two separate occasions in New York City, and even used to celebrate huge events on mountaintops in India by Spiritual Gurus. I have met fans who are millionaires and billionaires as well as fans who are Olympic Medalists and Guinness world record holders. I have been invited by philanthropists to help children receive free hearing aids with the amazing Starkey Hearing Foundation. My music has been used in schools to help children understand the importance of self-love all over the world! What I learn more and more—is that everything is a vibration. What is on the inside directly impacts the outside. What you put out comes back to you and that when you love—love always expands with more love. 67
Paul Luftenegger is an International Multi Award Winning Singer & Songwriter who writes music to inspire and promote global love and kindness from within. Paul is a leader in his new genre of music he calls ‘Conscious Healing Music’ to empower the listener’s heart and soul to thrive with self-love. Paul was invited as the feature musician to perform for The International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations. He also recently served on a mission to Vietnam with the ‘Starkey Hearing Foundation’ helping 2000 people receive free hearing aids. His music is used in classrooms to help children understand the importance of self-love and self-kindness as close as Ottawa and as far as Australia. His website is: www. beekindness.com
The Beginning of a Movement By Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz In September of 2015 about 250 yoga teachers and students gathered in downtown Santa Barbara, California for the first Accessible Yoga Conference to share ways in which the practices of yoga and especially hatha yoga can be made accessible to all populations no matter what their physical limitations may be. It all started in 2007 when Rev. Jivana Heyman, then, the Director of Teacher Training at the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco had a regular group of experienced and earnest yoga students in his adaptive yoga class. He felt that these dedicated and serious students should be able to become yoga teachers themselves and share their practice. It was decided that Integral Yoga would offer an Accessible Yoga Teacher Training so these students, who could not necessarily practice in a mainstream class, would be able to teach a basic level class and would know how to modify the
asanaâ€™s for students with physical limitations. On their own and with the guidance of Rev. Jivana, these students had already learned how to make the necessary modifications for their individual practice. Not only would these students be able to teach a regular basic hatha class, but from their own personal experience they would be able to teach many others with physical limitations. When Rev. Jivana and his family moved to Santa Barbara in 2015, he noticed there were several yoga teachers offering classes to very specialized groups of students. One shining example was Cheri Clampett who offered her Therapeutic Yoga Program at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. More and more, Jivana noticed there was a large number of teachers adapting yoga for diverse populations and he felt that there should be a forum to support these teachers. He gathered teachers and former students, myself
included, together along with new colleagues in Santa Barbara and we began the planning for the first Accessible Yoga Conference. The keynote Speaker for the first conference was Matthew Sanford, author of the book, Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence (Rodale: 2006). Matthew became a parapelegic at the age of 13 from a car accident that took the lives of his sister and father. He learned yoga at age 25 while in graduate school in Santa Barbara. At the opening of the conference, during his keynote speech, Matthew mentioned that we are not just getting together for a conference to share ideas but that we are really taking part in the beginning of a movementâ€” The Accessible Yoga Movement. What did that mean? Four Accessible Yoga Conferences later, we have all seen exactly what that means. More and more teachers who are doing incredible work with diverse populations
YOGA & HEALTH are coming forward and asking to present their experiences at the conferences while others are coming to support this work. Many teachers and students, both accessible and not, are signing up to be Accessible Yoga Ambassadors (a program offered through the Accessible Yoga Organization) so that they can help expand accessible yoga in their community. Ambassadors are located all over the world and are committed to bringing yoga to underserved communities of all kinds. What we all have in common is the belief in and the support of the Accessible Yoga Mission Statement: Accessible Yoga is dedicated to sharing the benefits of Yoga with anyone who currently does not have access to these practices, and with communities that have been excluded or underserved. All people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of Yoga, which offer individual empowerment and spiritual awakening. By building a strong network and advocating for a diverse Yoga culture that is inclusive and welcoming, we are sharing Yoga with all.
Everyone who is involved in this movement is dedicated to learning and deepening their practice of the teachings of yoga, which, in turn, deepens their commitment to sharing yoga with all. We understand the benefits of yoga and are inspired, as well as, wish to inspire others to practice, knowing we are all on a similar journey and the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual benefits from a complete yoga practice are infinite. We come together at our conferences to share our experiences, to learn and support one another, and to network. As Rev. Jivana has said many times, “If you have a body and a mind you can practice yoga,” a paraphrasing of the Accessible Yoga’s Mission Statement. One of my favorite teachings from Swami Satchidananda, my guru, is that as practitioners or teachers of yoga we should not go out and proselytize, preach, or recruit people into yoga. He says that through our example, people will see the positive changes and benefits we have received. If they are then curious, they may ask about yoga and what we have done to create these changes. One of my students, a man who uses a wheelchair, came to me initially after striking up a conversation in a coffee shop with a fellow regular customer. He mentioned that he would like to take up yoga but
could never imagine rolling into a studio and starting classes. He was pleasantly surprised to find out from his friend that “there is a yoga teacher in a wheelchair down the street at Integral Yoga.” He came by to meet me and we have been practicing together now for three years. Many people that I have been blessed to meet through the Accessible Yoga Conferences have shared story after story about how they never imagined that they would be doing this type of work or that there was a need for people with physical limitation to practice yoga. Through their own practice, they were drawn to assist others. They were also inspired by others being drawn to them, so that they could learn, having heard the benefits of practicing yoga. We have a growing online network with social media and hold two conferences per year (June in Toronto and October in Berlin in 2018). We will continue to meet, share stories, ideas, and fellowship. When I began using a wheelchair 11 years ago, I did not imagine that I would ever teach yoga or that I would meet so many people dedicated to sharing yoga with such diverse populations. But now we are all blessed to come together and continue to grow through the Accessible Yoga Movement.
Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz is an ordained interfaith minister and Integral Yoga Minister. He is certified as a Hatha Yoga, Meditation, and Raja Yoga Teacher. He received a Bachelor of Music in Brass Performance from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts Music School in 1996. He participated in the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco’s Accessible-Yoga Teacher Training, Raja Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 and the Meditation Teacher Training from Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville Virginia in 2011. In 2016 Rev. Rudra was ordained into the Integral Yoga Ministry and serves on the Accessible Yoga Board of Trustees as Treasurer. 69
YOGA & HEALTH
Mainstreaming Accessible Yoga for Adults with Development Disabilities & Challenges By Jackie Gadd, with Jo-San Arnold
Jo-San Arnold and I are “mobile” Accessible Yoga Ambassadors/Yoga Instructors; that is, we are certified yoga teachers with hundreds of hours of specialized training in adapting yoga for differently-abled populations. Our clients, who can have physical, mental, and/or developmental disabilities, make up roughly 4% (115,000) of the people in San Diego County. (These figures are only for developmentally disabled, and do not include classes for specialties such as Yoga for Cancer, Amputees, Veterans, PD, MS, CP, Trauma based, Mental Health and others). Many of these adults live in group homes, but some live in isolation, struggle with medical conditions, economic inequities, educational deficiencies and a general lack of community support. Yoga, philosophically, is about unity; not just the bringing together of the individual mind and the body, but also the community. We feel that community practice should therefore be available to all, not just the financially or physically privileged. This is the core belief of Accessible Yoga (AccessibleYoga.org), a worldwide organization to which we belong, that focuses on “sharing the benefits of Yoga with anyone who currently does not have access to these practices, and with communities that have been excluded or underserved.” Pursuant to that philosophy, Jo-San and I have helped to create a yoga community for the dis-abled of San Diego county by partnering with the county libraries: we have incorporated free weely Adaptive/Accessible yoga classes into the services they already provided to those with special needs. Our classes are attended by those with cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury, intellectual disability, and other challenges; they may utilize a wheelchair, walker, or be independently mobile. There may be as few as three, or as many as 40 students in a class, including aides and family members; we welcome all that arrive to our sessions regardless of ability. We use the library community room space and chairs and bring all our own props and tools depending upon the clients, the medical needs, and lessons for the day: blocks, blankets and bolsters, straps, eye pillows, and even “therapy” style tools like bamboo poles with rubber grips, pool noodles, and inflatable balls for coordination work. We encourage caretakers/aides/family members also to take part in the classes, to demonstrate participation as well as learn yoga techniques for themselves. We follow a traditional class arc: centering, breath work, warm ups, spinal movements, sun salutations, meditation and savasana. Since the intention behind the mind-body experience is universal, it applies to everyone in the room, caregiver or cared-for. With community in mind, Jo-San approached the organizers of the 2016 International Day of Yoga (IDY) Festival in San Diego about including an Adaptive Yoga session for three important reasons: 1) provide a gentle, chair-based yoga session for those that might be hesitant to otherwise try “popular” asana yoga at a festival; 2) promote Adaptive/Accessible Yoga as an authentic yoga format truly for every body; and, 3) introduce this practice to other instructors and studios, and show the media yoga wasn’t just ablebodied people doing difficult asana.
Jo-San Arnold teaching Accessible Yoga at Great Paces
Jackie leading one of the large pilot classes at the Vista library in 2016
It took Jo-San’s persistent involvement to highlight the need not just for ADA parking and bathrooms, but set aside accessible and quiet practice areas, curb ramps, adequate signage, appropriate sun cover, and inclusion on maps and directories. We again participated in 2017 and added a second session for Senior Chair yoga, one of my specialties. Students from our regular classes made the trek down from as far as Vista to practice with us! Unfortunately, for the June 23, 2018 event, the host studio changed the venue to one that is not accessible. Instead of creating discord, we withdrew our classes, and have asked the organizers to work more closely with us to ensure future events meet the IDY inclusivity philosophy. So, on the actual United Nations International Day of Yoga of June 21, we are teaching free Adaptive Yoga classes at the El Cajon Library, and at Great Paces, Adult Day Care Facility, to support the special needs communities.
Students at the 2016 IDOY Festival Adaptive sessions
In as much as some “specialty” yoga classes for children and seniors are gaining popularity at studios and inclusion in festivals, Jo-San and I firmly believe that the time has come to recognize, promote and celebrate yoga for dis-abilities. That means continuing to advocate for the special 4% of the population of San Diego and provide their access to free yoga classes. That means recognizing that these people deserve the same chance as everyone else to learn how to be mindful, how to find awareness and peace in and with their bodies, and to feel included in a community and a tradition that as a whole might not have started to notice them until now.
We appreciate the UN helping us promote this cause and the classes we are teaching on June 21! We challenge all venues to be inclusive in their celebrations on IDY and always!
Jackie Gadd found yoga in 2004 as path to alleviate physical and emotional health complications. After volunteering to teach yoga to preteens, she went on to earn four small certificates in children’s yoga. In 2011, at age 43 and a new mom, she committed to yoga as a career, and earned her E-RYT-200 and RPTY (perinatal). Since, Jackie has added certifications like Yoga for Eating Disorders, Teaching Adaptive Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis, Accessible Yoga, Silver Sneakers, and trainings in mindfulness, restorative practices, and yoga anatomy. For her, every class is adaptive, and she insists that the practice should fit the practitioner, not the reverse.
Jo-San Arnold is a retired Firefighter/ Medic/Instructor who began yoga at 63 as an alternative approach to surgery. She has been an active member of NAMI Board of Directors and the County of San Diego Mental Health Board. She has a son who is a Regional Center Client and has been an advocate for Developmentally Disabled & Mental Health clients over 25 years, with five spent specifically in the California Senate for this cause. Jo-San has her ERYT-200, an RCYT with specialty in Asanas for Autism and Special Needs, and is certified in Aqua Kriya Yoga, Accessible Yoga, Yoga 4 Parkinson’s, Relax & Renew, and Jin Shin Jyutsu. She is the Yoga Director for Great Paces, an adult care facility, and believes that yoga is an individual, integrative experience and should be safe and available to everyone.
YOGA & HEALTH
Small Steps… One Path
By Jo-San Arnold, M.A., E-RYT, RCYT, AYT, YACEP, CPDYT The noise and chaos were deafening when I opened the big glass door and walked in. At least 30 adults, seated or in wheelchairs, with medical and intellectual disability challenges were scattered around the room, with a few care providers sandwiched in. At the sound of the door, faces turned to me with my cart and armloads of props, silence ensued and almost in unison the group said, “it’s the yoga teacher.” Then the atmosphere completely changed. It is a world of challenged adults dealing with multiple complex medical problems, severely limiting their ability to care for themselves, if at all. It is a world where most live in group homes, separated from families and have the absolute minimal health care provisions, living a life where they have almost NO choices. They are told when to get up, what to eat and when, what to wear, taken to day care facilities where every hour of every day is planned and executed on their behalf. Many are non-verbal and some medical challenges present with the lack of ability to direct any body movement, control spasticity, and all have care providers. Time is measured by the periods between hospital stays. It is the world of Holly, whose body strains with the weight of her head bringing her so far forward in her wheelchair she needs a lap strap to keep her from falling out. She flails, with little control, and cannot
speak but her smile lights up the room. It is the world of Joey, whose cerebral palsy is so advanced that his legs cannot move without the assistance of another, and whose muscles are hyper tonic, so they are tight, stiff, and spastic, his arms curled in tightly against his chest. The very light in his eyes show you he is a gentle soul, full of love. It is the world of Ron, whose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other medical problems dictate how he responds to life and those around him, without boundaries. But he is the first to share and volunteer to help pass out props. These beautiful souls are societies outliers—and they practice yoga. They are shining examples of how the United Nations message of promoting yoga for health and well-being, as well as a pathway to peace can come to fruition everywhere and with everyone. Ahimsa, or non-violence, is the first and foremost of the 8 limbs of yoga in the Yoga Sutras. Nonviolence, thru loving kindness, towards self or others is the first step on any bridge to peace. When I began working with this group two years ago you couldn’t even say the class looked like ‘controlled chaos’. I had approached the adult day care facility about providing free yoga for their clients and their employees. I had already worked with this population for over 20 years in a medical capacity and as a mother of a son who has a traumatic brain injury, knew what challenges they faced daily. As a majority of the clients knew me as a medical provider, the administrators were open to trying it, but reserved as to whether any benefits could be derived. We would leave no one out. We also would require that their staff rotated in and assist with the class so that all breathing techniques (pranayama) and movement (asanas), as well as neurological relaxation (savasana)
could be used by their staff to support the activities of daily living of the individuals when I was not there. The idea was to have this period during class where they began to develop an awareness of themselves, aiding their own breathing to move it from the highly constricted thoracic realm to their full lung capacity and to position and align them with props to allow for this. If this was all they were capable of, at this time, in this present moment, this was yoga. Initially, as breath work was our first goal, how to use it for self—regulation, coping with stress, reduction of anxiety, calming, etc. we spent at least one third of our session practicing this. Demonstrations were inclusive, props were used, and as many were motor and intellectually challenged, repetition was a must. Even those participants whom most people would be barely able to perceive a change in breath or lung movements were following the guidance and week after week it only got better. Lips were moving, audible breaths were heard. Reports are that demonstrative anger among clients and staff frustrations has been reduced tremendously. We worked on intention prior to every session. Words and themes were chosen carefully, reiterating the use of breath to calm one’s self, and integrating the techniques of Dr. Marshal Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Non-Violent Communications into our intentions. (UNITAR-UN Institute for Training & Research) Always explaining, guiding, building on their desire to increase their abilities, challenging them to move in new ways, expanding their sense of oneness but also of the group, we developed our warm up’s and asanas to be building blocks for their practice (always adaptive and integrated). We use sensory integration techniques, somatic slow-motion movement and transitions, and props that you might see in an occupational therapy or physical therapy office. Their care providers, who assist in class, have learned better ways to work with their clients, through voice and breath work, and we always emphasize kindness and gentleness in all actions. As our classes progress, the portion that astounds the administrative staff continually is movement into and maintaining savasana. For those who live in a
fast-paced loud world, or one with little neurological controls, being able to transition into savasana is an incredible gift! It is absolutely silent in the room, and even Cecelia sits quietly with her hands in mudra. Patricia mutters “close eyes” as Ron, quiet, gazes at a drishti point. Only the sounds of my crystal bowls can be heard, and yoga has vastly strengthened not only the bodies of our class and staff, but their ability to connect compassionately with their selves and others, as well as to resolve differences peacefully. In our small corner of the world, with small but deliberate steps, Joey can now raise his own glass to drink, Holly can hold her head up, Ron can control his constant movement, and in just one community, yoga serves as a holistic health bridge that strengthens the mind and body of each of the yogis individually, the group as a whole, and extends its arms worldwide!
Jo-San Arnold is a retired Firefighter/Medic/Instructor. She has been an active member of NAMI Board of Directors and the County of San Diego Mental Health Board or over ten years. She has a son who is a Regional Center Client and has been an advocate for Developmentally Disabled & Mental Health clients over 25 years. After her retirement she spent five years specifically in the California Senate for this cause. She holds many citations for her advocacy, including an award from the California Psychiatric Society for her work in children’s mental health. Jo-San has her M.A., ERYT, YACEP, an RCYT with specialty in Asanas for Autism and Special Needs, and is certified in Aqua Kriya Yoga, Accessible Yoga, Yoga 4 Parkinson’s, Relax & Renew, and Jin Shin Jyutsu. She trained under Dr. Marshall Rosenberg for many years in Encinitas, CA. She is the Yoga Director for Great Places, an adult care facility, and her classes have participated in the International Day of Yoga since its inception promoting inclusivity. 74
YOGA & HEALTH
Yoga in Daily Life: Benefits Inwardly and Outwardly By Dinah Wiley, Yoga in Daily Life, USA My practice of yoga in daily life is a journey toward inner peace. As individuals we need peace within ourselves, and our world needs peace. Internal and worldly peace are prerequisites for humans to achieve healthy lifestyle and sustainability for our beloved environment, all its creatures, and our societies. The physical, mental, social and spiritual health promoted by Yoga in Daily Life System (YIDL) imbues us with a kind of peaceful purity of body, mind, and soul. I’m blessed to have studied yoga with YIDL founder, Vishwaguru Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda (“Vishwaguruji”), for 22 years so far.
to those around me, which brings me happiness every day. Practicing meditation, I’ve learned to nourish my mind and improve the character of my thinking, which in turn improves my speech and action. Because of all these changes, yoga practice brings me a greater confidence, presence, and joy: all products of health and inner peace. Can our personal inner peace touch those who we don’t even know? When I work in harmony with my fellow yoga aspirants in Yoga in Daily Life USA (YIDLUSA), we are living the teaching of Vishwaguruji’s master, Sri Swami Madhavananda: “One in all, and all in One.” All of us—board members, teachers, and organizers—work as volunteers in service of the unity and One-ness that is yoga. As volunteers, we give from our hearts, taking on duties in a spirit of seva (selfless service), as taught by ancient scripture. When we bring the present awareness of yoga to what we do, we imbue our volunteer activities with peace and love. YIDL-USA is a non-profit charity and we offer many free programs. We have free and reduced-price classes to help Seniors enjoy their aging bodies and the increasing wisdom of their minds; in the Washington DC area, Seniors come to the YIDL center, in New York we go to the nursing home. Other free programs are offered at the center in Atlanta, where armed forces veterans learn techniques to relieve their stress, and unemployed people find life achievements on the yoga mat that without free classes they otherwise would not be able to afford.
Vishwaguruji leading yoga in YIDL Alexandria, VA
To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, in yoga we strive to be the peace we wish to see in the world. What does this transformation look like and how does it happen? Through my personal practice, I’ve gradually become less fearful and angry, and more able to pause and think before I act or speak. I’ve become more able to summon kindness and understanding, and to remember Divine providence on the difficult days and also when days are easy. Practicing asanas, I’ve learned present awareness and an understanding that my body is a precious gift: the vehicle for this life’s journey. Practicing pranayama, I’ve learned there are reserves of extra energy and mental calm I can draw on to contribute 75
Yoga for seniors, YIDL Alexandria, VA
Along with fellow teachers, I have taught prisoners in our local jail. I experience inmate students as being in great need of inner peace, and many are able to quickly withdraw deep within themselves. Yoga techniques can bring to them, as to us, the ability to think before acting or speaking, making our lives more peaceful. Our kids’ classes are also noteworthy, not because of their rubbery bodies but because children and youth are especially keen to follow a yoga teacher’s instructions for using correct methods beginning at a young age. What an opportunity yoga gives them to enjoy a lifetime of radiant physical, mental, spiritual, and social health! YIDL-USA also teaches lifelong wellness techniques at busy offices, health and recreation centers, hospitals, and schools. We feel sure that the people who we teach and touch with our wands of health and peace, also touch others. And how does one yoga organization help bring peace and wellness to the world? We partner with others on local, national, and international platforms. With a local Buddhist sangha, we have planted native trees as part of Vishwaguruji’s project organizing the hundreds of YIDL center volunteers worldwide to plant millions of trees. With local interfaith, humanitarian, and environmental organizations, we’ve co-sponsored community education about peace and protection of our planet. We collaborate with the international fellowship of YIDL centers, contributing to many of our master’s humanitarian endeavors. In rural, impoverished India, donations of time and money bring K-12 education to girls as well as boys, and protection of animals such as the 2,500 beautiful homeless cows that enjoy Vishwaguruji’s shelter. YIDL-USA is in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN). I was honored to join a small group
Peace Tree Planting in Alexandria, VA, 2016
of international YIDL students who accompanied Vishwaguruji to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. At “Rio+20”, among other contributions, Vishwaguruji led a beautiful public guided meditation, which helped tired and anxious conferees to become focused and more peaceful. We have participated in UN High Level Dialogues, and meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In 2018, partnering with the International Day of Yoga Committee of the UN and other organizations, we co-sponsored the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Conference at UN headquarters in New York. These are all joyful endeavors. Our lives are in the service of others! This is the way to happiness and peace taught by all spiritual traditions. Yoga keeps this path ever foremost in our conscious awareness through our daily practices that create a healthy lifestyle and deepen our inner peace. Let us celebrate and perpetuate the important role yoga plays in bringing about the health and peace we all wish to see in our world.
Dinah Wiley (“Divya Puri”) is a certified Yoga in Daily Life USA (YIDL-USA) teacher leading yoga and meditation classes since 1996. She has trained teachers, conducted student workshops, and attended advanced training abroad. Dinah serves on the YIDL-USA Board of Directors (1996-present), as Secretary and President and currently as Treasurer. She has volunteered as the center manager and has led Teachers and Satsang teams. She was General Secretary of the Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council, 2010-2016, and represents YIDL-USA at United Nations meetings and conferences. Dinah is a retired public interest civil rights attorney and non-profit manager, who also enjoys vegetarian cooking, gardening, music, camping, reading, and grandmothering. 76
YOGA & HEALTH
Yoga as a Salve for Fear and Anxiety By Canon Lloyd Casson
I’ve been thinking about the inordinate fear and anxiety that seem to define the human experience today. I believe it’s a fear about life and about truth. We are in a search for wholeness, for a deep sense of connection to ourselves, to God, to the world, to creation itself. I think that is the truth about us. I think the lie that we live with is that wholeness is externally driven and externally achieved. Rather than finding that sense of ourselves from within, we find it in the things on the outside, things of our own making, things that we vest with meaning and an almost divine power – money, achievements, even religion and race. We allow these things to define us based on our flawed and limited perceptions. For example, religion becomes a basis for separation, hostility and war rather than being unified by the deep virtues and values the religions share. Initially each of the faith traditions was an attempt to enable us to experience this deepest and most precious aspect of the human experience. But eventually our identification with our religions began to separate us from one another. Religion became less an internal experience of our true and elevated nature and more an external projection of national identity, limited truths and historic animosities. Instead of being a source of strength and comfort, our religions became a source of separation and anxiety. It was the same with other aspects of our identity. Our inner sense of prosperity became a desire for outer wealth. Our inner attainments devolved into ambition for outer achievements. Our sense of self was externalized, and we began to fear the loss of these external properties that we had allowed to define us. I have a feeling that this is what’s the matter with the world: It’s our own unawareness of truth. It’s being out of touch with who we are at the core, with our own consciousness. If we
were really truly conscious, if we were aware of our true eternal identity, then we would be living in alignment in our own hearts, in our families, in our communities and between and among nations. We wouldn’t be striving to find our identity by putting down the other’s identity: “I can only be, if you are not.” This inordinate anxiety is at the root of our mighty and often fanatical struggle—even to the death—to gain and hold on to whatever it is in all spheres of human life, which we believe provides us with the sense of ultimate security, meaning and fulfillment in life. That is, to make us whole. We have forgotten that the qualities that make us whole are latent within each of us. We have lost faith in their durability and their power. In the final analysis, our return to wholeness has to do with our connection with God, the source of these latent virtues and qualities of human beings when we are at our best. I believe our connection to God, the Supreme Soul, is never really broken. It is not in the nature of the Supreme to cut us off. It’s just that in attempting to go in our own autonomous ways, following the devices and desires of our own hearts, forgetting who we are, and standing in the darkness of our own illusions, we lost the conscious awareness of this connection and maybe even the conscious desire for it. We were overtaken by our desires and alienated more and more from our true selves and from the true nature of others. We began to go from this to that, desperately struggling to fill a profound sense of emptiness, but to no avail. In the very moment when we
are inspired to remember God, here and now, we become awakened to God and experience the deep settled peace that we have been longing and striving for. How do we reclaim our connection with God? I think we reclaim this connection in meditation, in contemplation, where we experience with spacious awareness who we are, not defined by time or space, but just by who we are. This is where we find God. This is where we find our connection to God, and therefore to every other soul who also shares that same connection. In practical terms, this means living in constant remembrance of God and my yogic connection to God. Without God I have no life. God is the source of the love, the light, the beauty that is the essence of my life –experienced as a continuing fountain, a continuing ocean. My connection with God has no restrictions. It’s a continual outpouring of God’s self that gives me my life. So the way I experience it in this world is not only by meditating, but also by a daily regular practice of being in communion with God. It can only be manifest if I am in communion with the rest of the world, if I look at you and see my brother. This, to me, is the essence of yoga.
Canon Lloyd Casson
YOGA & PROMOTING A CULTURE OF PEACE & NON-VIOLENCE By Amma Sri Karunamayi The International Day of Yoga is an extraordinary event, celebrated by people from countries all over the world. It has drawn attention to the health benefits of yoga, being presented as a holistic practice. Today, in a world where people are diagnosed with chronic conditions, affecting their physical and mental well-being, the ancient practice of yoga has consciously helped. At the same time, yoga provides a key method for an individual to grow spiritually in our modern society.
Yoga was originated in India at a time when individuals used meditation to transform their body and mind. Yoga is very beneficial for all human beings if it is practiced on a daily basis especially in the early morning. Through practicing yoga and meditation, all of us are making true efforts towards creating a better and peaceful world. We can extend gestures of kindness to support â€œdiversity, nondiscrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants,â€? by putting more tangible change into motion through civic action. One of the most important things average citizens can do is get involved in local government and volunteer for organizations that support this cause and/or others that create a culture of peace through acceptance in local communities. We can instill respect, safety, and dignity for all in our communities including migrants and refugees by first changing how we, as individuals, treat each other. Kindness is a daily tool to change our interactions, our negative thoughts towards others, and our prejudices. While a process, kindness can become an ingrained habit quickly. Kindness creates ripples of far-reaching positivity. We can create a culture of kindness and peace through creating spaces that bring everyone in a community together, regardless of national origin. This could include something like organizing a weekly community dinner or movie night. The International Day of Peace, like the International Day of Yoga, is another important day which is devoted to honoring and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. By observing this day, it reminds humanity that our existence is to be in the service of peace and it should be commemorated as a day that our over-arching commitment, above interests or differences of any kind, is to spread peace. Our generation is desperately aware of the problems currently facing humanity. War, conflict, hunger, poverty, social inequality, and environmental degradation are only a few examples of these issues. International Peace Day intends to raise awareness of the importance of joining together in peace and to foster peace for our future generations. By celebrating the International Day of Yoga and the International Day of Peace, we join with all people across the globe in our minds and in our hearts to bring kindness and good wishes to create a better world for all. These days ask us to examine our own lives and to ask if we are leading a sustainable lifestyle, living in harmony and peace with the Earth and with each other. Her Holiness Amma Sri Karunamayi is revered as an embodiment of unconditional Divine Motherly Love due to the care and compassion that she so liberally showers upon all. In 1988, she established SMVA Trust, a global non-profit affiliated with the United Nations, creating social justice initiatives to serve those in need demonstrating how the timeless wisdom of Sanathana Dharma (Vedic Culture) interweaves tradition and public service. SMVA Trust provides: free education/ housing/medical care, clean drinking water and womenâ€™s empowerment programs. Amma is also the founder and spiritual head of Manidweepa Maha Samsthanam, a serene forest ashram which includes the Sri Lalita Parameshwari Devi Tri-Shakti Peetham. The ashram regularly hosts events such as: meditation retreats, students retreats, festivals, the annual Navaratri Grand Celebrations, Homas, and Pujas.
YOGA & PROMOTING A CULTURE OF PEACE & NON-VIOLENCE
Yoga—A Path to Non-Violence and Peace By Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda
“The mightiest power in humans is the power of thought. But now is the time to use our intellectual energy for the benefit of the world, rather than being the cause of its destruction. The path of yoga helps us to unearth the valuable treasury of spiritual knowledge buried within the heart and put it to good use. In this way each of us can contribute something worthwhile to the planet and its recovery.” — His Holiness Vishwaguruji Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda In the last 60 years, technology and science made immense progress and development. But is this development in harmony with nature? What are the side effects of this development?
feelings, understand another’s life situation and grant them their rights. Give happiness and forgiveness.
Unfortunately, in the world of today, money is the driving force in decision-making processes. It is this condition that is responsible for the critical situation of our world. The worst pollution is mental pollution. The whole environment is poisoned due to human greed. Gandhi said, “Mother Earth has everything for our needs, but not enough for our greed.” Living in the absence of spiritual and ethical values has robbed people of the knowledge of their interconnectedness with nature and all of life. The first step that we must take is to bring love and respect into our consciousness in order to heal the wounds that have existed for such a long time. Peace and happiness cannot be purchased in the market; they can only be developed within. A yogi would say, renounce all those things that give us trouble, and open our heart and hands in order to give. Renounce greed, renounce anger, renounce duality and narrow thinking. Open the heart and give understanding. Understand another’s
Ahimsa Paramo Dharma—non-violence—is the highest principle. No one should harm anybody by thoughts, words or actions. The highest obligation for all humans is to protect, not destroy. This means to protect all life, not only human life but animal life too. This is why yogis are choosing to be vegetarians. Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Chairman of Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) who received the Peace Nobel Prize on behalf of this commission, said in his acceptance speech: “To solve the problem of climate change and to have enough food there is only one way: to become vegetarian.” Sustainable living and lasting world peace can only be achieved if humans re-awaken to the significance of maintaining their ethical and spiritual values, while fostering a genuine commitment to care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love. For the sake of the life of this planet and for our children, we shall come to a natural way of life. Dear brothers and sisters, spirituality doesn’t mean only meditation. It’s a noble way of life!
Snapshot of Yoga’s Positive Effects by Mary Friedland
I am constantly amazed by the reports that meditation students give at the end of their 8-session beginner course.
Yoga in Daily Life, the system, is created for modern civilization and based on ancient authentic literature, the philosophy of nondualism. The regular practice of yoga brings physical, psychic, social and spiritual health and it guides toward self-realization. Self-inquiry meditation from Yoga in Daily Life provides a tool for overcoming negative emotions and awakening consciousness. That is why the global efforts of the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council and Yoga in Daily Life International, are committed to restoring awareness of the shared responsibilities we have as citizens of this earth. Responsibility not only to fellow humans, but also to fellow creatures of the earth, and our natural environment. Yoga practice offers a scientific psychosomatic practice for awakening consciousness for achieving this.
Our slogan is: WE DO CARE! We are here for all.
His Holiness Vishwaguruji Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda is an awarded Ambassador for Peace, world renowned Yoga master and founder of the scientific system Yoga in Daily Life® (YIDL). His Holiness comes from Rajasthan, India, and is based in Vienna, Austria, Europe since more than 45 years. Every year he is going round the globe in a „World Peace Tour“ to visit Yoga in Daily Life centers in whole Europe, in America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Yoga in Daily Life® is a worldwide not-forprofit humanitarian organization, with member associations in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). The Association’s activities are aimed to serve humankind by fostering health, world peace, humanitarian aid, protection of the environment and all creatures, tolerance, respect and freedom among religions, cultures and nations.
At the end of a recent course, three young women said they all started the course because they suffered from anxiety. Motivated by this discomfort, they all began meditating daily. All three said their anxiety levels had greatly reduced. One said that she noticed relief from day one. Another said that one day she chose not to meditate one day, to test whether meditation was still needed. That day her anxiety level shot up. Another young man in the class was writing his doctoral dissertation in physics. He had to finish in a few months, and he was unable to concentrate. He finished the dissertation on time and it was accepted. He reported that a big turn-around took place when he started the meditation course: He was able to quiet the chattering mind, be lighter about the end goal, and apply his energy to the task at hand. Two dedicated Raja Yoga students in Chicago each took a meditation course several years ago. Both men came because they had serious anger problems. They each reported at the end of their 4-week course that anger was no longer a problem for them. They had learned alternate ways of looking at themselves, other people and the world. They felt at peace inside. While anger occasionally comes up for them, they have tools for dealing with it quickly and nondestructively. Mary Friedland is Coordinator of the Brahma Kumaris activities in Chicago and the Midwest. A Raja Yogi of more than 30 years, she teaches courses in meditation and everyday spirituality. She enjoys applying spiritual principles to life’s knotty problems and sharing what she has learned with others.
YOGA & PROMOTING A CULTURE OF PEACE & NON-VIOLENCE
Interfaith Understanding in Yogic Wisdom By Rev. Dr. Dileepkumar Thankappan Yoga is the most popular physical, mental and spiritual practice in 21st century. It originated from the Vedic tradition in South India which has a rich multitude of spiritual-faith cultures and traditions. Our great yogis and sages transmitted their own yogic experiences to us which contain an unlimited knowledge of the universe. During my early childhood as a yogi, I learned yoga from my parents, who were an interfaith couple and they encouraged me in developing an Interfaith style of yogic teaching. My mother, Devaki Kanakamma, was a school teacher and she guided me in finding answers from a practical and humorous perspective. She is from the “Kavil Family”—a traditional Hindu family promoting Ayurveda, Kalaripayattu, Yoga, Vedanta and Sanskrit for many centuries. My father, Dr. Thomas Thankappan, was a holistic medical practitioner
who taught me scientific methods to understanding the human body and mind. He is from the “Nadayil Family,” one of the seven Namboothiri families who converted from Hinduism to Christianity since the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle in AD 52. During the school/college years, my parents sent me to different masters to learn sports, games, martial arts, music, dance, alternative medicine and much more! It gave me such great joy to serve people in thousands of community events and additionally acquiring essential wisdom. As a child, my personal experiences were encouraging me to find the truth in my own life which became part of my yogic practice. I was diving into the depth of universal spirituality and more questions began to arise in my mind. Although discussions with my parents and teachers instilled me with peace of mind, I eventually ended up living in Himalayan caves and mountains in Western Ghats, South India. Meeting great yogis who can do miracles was an amazing experience in my spiritual journey. I observed that these masters never mentioned any religion or culture, especially Prabhakara Sidha Yogi, Paul Muni and Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yeti. They only spoke about the universal love & wisdom of which we all are born with. In 1979, I began incorporating interfaith teachings and holistic
medical techniques during my yoga classes with the help of my parents. In 1991, I invited a relative who is a bishop, H.G. Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese, to Inaugurate the annual celebration along with other religious leaders at our institute. Inviting faith leaders and accommodating other religious teachings became an attractive style in my events. I faced some objections from Hindu extremists upon introducing interfaith prayers at my yoga events. Somehow the Universe protected me from them and all other dangerous situations. In Cochin City, the place where I grew up in Kerala, India, there are numerous temples, churches, mosques and even a synagogue. It was a supporting atmosphere for organizing more events with friends. I started to create events throughout India and eventually ended up in New York City on September 14, 1999. Fortunately, Jagadguru H.H. Swami Bua Ji Maharaj (who lived 120 years) and Rabbi Dr. Joseph H. Gelberman gave me enormous support to build up interfaith based yoga activities. Swami Bua encouraged me to meet numerous yoga masters in different countries in order to help promote the creation of an International Day of Yoga. Back on June 21, 2009, in Lisbon, Portugal, I signed the agreement pledging to do so.
From my social media and email blasts, people may think that I have an egoistic nature and some of them will block my messages or ask social media to delete my pages. I gave up my entire personal life for the global community to serve a divine purpose. “Never give up” is my personal mantra! I have to ignore their emotions and push hard to break people’s mindset in order to bring the ultimate goal which is the understanding of the universal truth. Recognition by the United Nations of World Interfaith Harmony Week and the International Day of Yoga are two major objectives which I am happy to write, have been accomplished and observed around the world and in my life. Opportunities such as traveling to over 85 countries, meeting millions of people and working with NGOs as well as institutions including the United Nations are providing me more freedom to cultivate universal wisdom. When people can understand the true meaning of their own lives, they will start to love themselves and others. By birth we all are spiritual beings. The universe gives us a beautiful chance to celebrate our existence. We all are from the universe; we all are made of five elements in the same way as the universe; we all are part of the universe; we are the universe. Yes, we can make a difference with our collective work for the sake of our universal family the “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”
Rev. Dr. Dileepkumar Thankappan, internationally known as Avathuta H. H. Jagat Guru Dileepji Maharaj is from Kerala, India. He is the founder and president of the World Yoga Community, International Gurukula Community and executive board member of the “All Faiths Seminary International” in New York. For over 30 years he is organizing events and festivals globally as well as conducting partnership events with other organizations including NGOs which are affiliated with the United Nations. He received numerous titles and awards from various institutions and organizations for his humanitarian activities including yoga, culture of peace and Interfaith harmony. For more, visit: guruji.us. 82
YOGA & PROMOTING A CULTURE OF PEACE & NON-VIOLENCE
Yoga: Art of Optimizing Harmony By Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Truth about ourselves is that we strive for supreme accomplishment and seek the means for it. This deep desire in the collective heart of humanity has led us to overcome insurmountable challenges in the course of our history and create beautiful institutions, such as the United Nations (UN), which embody the enlightenment values of humanity in letter and spirit.
“Things in this world seem distinct from one another, but in reality they are not so. If the jaundice in our eyes disappears, we would see all things as one undivided reality.”
But this deep desire to seek the highest accomplishments can also breed trouble when people or populations are deficient in enlightenment values and competencies such as ethical foresight, empathy and enlightened personal agency. Deep unawareness Excerpt from Mahatma Gandhi— to the fact that we all are interconnected and so The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi are our fates, can lead people to believe in selfish ends causing them to adopt any means, fair or foul, for their sake. Such blindness can lead to shortsighted, selfish actions without a care for the cost and consequences to other fellow humans and our planet. We don’t need to look to history for examples. In our contemporary environment we see such perversions playing out daily in the political, financial and social landscapes with a frequency that can make one’s head spin. Populism is on the rise. While total wealth has risen for all the countries in the world, wealth inequality in each country has never been higher. Our communities seem to be getting more intolerant and segregated. It is a shame because, for the first time in human history, we have the technology and resources to completely eradicate hunger, poverty, illiteracy and the means to give everyone a chance at “the good life.” Do we still face the lack of social and political will to do so? The UN’s Initiatives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are worthy of applause and make a real difference, but, the dream of creating a global civilization where all humans can enjoy peace, prosperity, health and justice is not going to become a reality unless we address the root cause of all problems. Figuring out the solution to the challenges in the way of accomplishing the SDGs requires us to recognize the common denominator: human beings! Unless we invest in developing enlightened human capital that is deeply ethical and competent, our problems will not be solved at the root level. The sad truth is current systems of creating human capital primarily focus on equipping people with only analytical and technical knowledge, optimizing their brains and hearts to maximize financial bottom lines and material goals. Competencies such as building ethical agency, creative intelligence, empathy and
enlightenment are left to chance. How then can we expect there to be lasting peace, harmony or justice in our society? Yoga can help. It is a nonsectarian system complete with proven frameworks to cultivate ethics, creative intelligence, empathy, energy, determination. Most importantly, it gives each women and man tools to build strong personal agency based on enlightenment values that are required to do good in the world. Therefore, yoga can create the right human capital from the ground up, from the inside out, and help us to achieve the UNâ€™s SDGs with ease and efficiency. The beauty of yoga is that, as a practical and efficient science, it effectively helps us develop the mental and physical competence and the enlightened agency. The field of yoga is deep and rich but, in the spirit of being practical. Let me share with you some things that you can put into practice right away, like today, that will begin to maximize harmony, peace and prosperity in the worldâ€”starting with you. At the core of yoga there are four commitments that will turn you into a harmony-generating machine. Donâ€™t take my words for it, just do an experiment. Make these four commitments to yourself and adhere to them for at least three months, and, I guarantee, you will have made the world a significantly better place. Four Commitments: 1. Coherence/Harmony Maximization: This is the first principal of yoga. Commit to yourself that, from now on, your every conscious thought and action will be in the spirit of creating maximum coherence. 2. Service Maximization: Commit to make a maximum value contribution to the community and geography you are part of through your work and services. Continuously reflect on how you can optimize your thoughts and actions to maximize your value contribution to your community. 3. Charity Maximization: Being productive is not enough. Share your mental, physical and social wealth with others and empower them. Commit to maximize your giving on a regular basis. Remember you can always give something and you can always give more. 4. Positive Transformation Maximization: Rise above your comfort and discomfort. Seek out and engage in the activities and austerity that maximize positive transformation in your own life and in the life of others. Implementing these four commitments will not only help you to make a significant contribution to global harmony but to your personal life experience which will also become significantly better. With love and gratitude, Sincerely yours, Swami B www.deepmindfulness.co www.swamiyogaclub.com Swami Brahmananda Saraswati is an atypical monk. Before coming to the US, he trained in the Himalayas for 20 years. He studied physiology and health and then continued to medical school. He is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University studying business focusing on entrepreneurship, healthcare management and organizational leadership. Drawing upon his diverse experiences, and, understanding that all individuals are unique, Swami designed Deep Mindfulness Training for high performance and work/ life harmony. He creates customized programs and is hands-on, no-fluff, engaging and fun in helping clients develop cognitive abilities, emotional and social intelligence, deep motivation and resilience. 84
YOGA & CREATIVE ARTS Arise, awake, O friend of my dream. Arise, awake, O breath of my life. Arise, awake, O light of my eyes. O seer-poet in me, Do manifest yourself in me and through me. Arise, awake, O vast heart within me. Arise, awake, O consciousness of mine, Which is always transcending the universe And its own life of the Beyond. Arise, awake, O form of my meditation transcendental. Arise, awake, O bound divinity in humanity. Arise, awake, O my heart’s Liberator, Shiva, And free mankind from its ignorance-sleep. Sri Chinmoy, My Flute, Agni Press, 1972. Translated by Sri Chinmoy from his own Bengali, “Jago amar swapan sathi.”
When I was a trumpet Of the freedom-sky, The pride of the sky Enveloped my Goal-Source. Now I am a flute Of the bondage-earth, And the pride of the earth Envelops my soul-course. Sri Chinmoy, The Goal is won, Agni Press, 1974.
Embrace the grass Of humility. Ascend the hill Of divinity. Claim the sun Of immortality. Sri Chinmoy, Eternity’s Silence-Heart, Agni Press, 1974. 85
Dancing makes the soul young. Therefore I shall dance. Loving makes the heart soulful. Therefore I shall love. Offering makes the life fruitful. Therefore I shall offer. Surrendering makes the dream real. Therefore I shall surrender. Sri Chinmoy, The Golden Boat, part 2, Agni Press, 1974.
Music/Lyrics By: Paul Luftenegger© All Work Under Copyright 2013 - 2018 All Rights Reserved “Diamond Light” Is The Winner of “The U.S.A. Songwriting Contest” 2013 Honourable Mention Award
There’s a part of me that you cannot see There’s a part of me that you’ll never ever know That I’ll never ever show That’s a part of me that only I can see I am a diamond light I will not be a victim of cruelty I will not be lead by the darkness of your heart I’m flooding my life with abundant waves of diamond light Oh I cannot make your heart feel my heart I gave all I could give there’s nothing more for me to give I cannot make your heart love me I cannot make your heart feel me Oh I am a diamond light I will not be a victim of cruelty I will not be lead by the darkness of your heart I’m flooding my life with abundant waves of diamond light I am here with my heart in hand My heart is in these hands I cannot stand here for another day And I know down deep in my chest that I tried my best These are the notes of my heart These are the colours of my diamond heart Oh I am a diamond light I will not be a victim of cruelty I will not be lead by the darkness of your heart I’m flooding my life with abundant waves of diamond light Oh you don’t own me My heart is free to be to be me I’ve turned my dial My past will not hold me back Heaven’s created from the moment of right now I am a diamond light of love click here to listen to Diamond Light by Paul Luftenegger
YOGA & CREATIVE ARTS
Surrender Music/Lyrics By: Paul Luftenegger © All Work Under Copyright 2013 - 2018 All Rights Reserved
Have you ever dreamed a dream so big that you’re scared? Have you ever felt your heart’s about to leap? That the life you knew was vanishing in the air? Oh God save my heart from breaking again I cannot take anymore Oh I don’t know where this road will lead It’s a path I’ve never taken It’s a road I’ve never been down before Which way do I go? How will I ever know? I guess it comes down, down to faith! They say that God - God is within you They say that God - God is where you stand They say that sin is when you don’t see your potential or worth So would you turn on - turn on the light of your love Oh I am - as I am - and we are - as we are Oh I am a prince of peace are we? Oh we can be the peace we want to see! Oh I surrender I surrender to love There’s only love inside of me.
click here to listen to Surrender by Paul Luftenegger 87
By Shakuntala “Molly” Roopan Majestic mountains, deep blue oceans, and the boundless skies, These are the things that I am most inspired by. Powerful, silent and glorious are the mountains, glistening with snow at their peaks, Erosion against the wind, erosion against the sea, yet exalted they stand, Serving as an example to man. Deep, mysterious, and constantly in motion, so you are ! oh, deep ocean, Relentless in your energy, the home of both the young and old. In clarity and tranquility, as you reflect the bright blue sky, remind the mind that it is a reflection of that glorious light Here and forever, yet just passing by. As for you, oh vast sky, you are my favorite. In you everything is born - planets, comets, stars and all. Yet, as magnificent as you are dearest sky, your splendor is infinitesimal to The Divine Creator of it ALL.
Transformation By Shakuntala “Molly” Roopan My little rose plant struggles to bloom as water wears away at its roots - only too soon. Looking up towards the sky, thirsting for sunshine Merciful death approaching, all part of a grand design. In its last moments, it dreams of being a giant oak with roots planted firmly in the ground - reflecting in a clear lake that surrounds. But alas, alas, just a dream - or, so it all seems. Then as night approaches…. On its leaves, as the silvery light of the moon glistens, My little rose plant in silence, now truly listens… Deep within itself, a tiny voice it hears And knows instantly that this is one who truly cares. No longer were there sadness and tears, For all of a sudden, my little rose plant had no fear. And as the golden ray of the sun pierced through the sky, My little rose plant stirred and opened its eyes. A peaceful dawn witnessed the birth of a giant oak, As my little rose plant awoke.
YOGA & CREATIVE ARTS
Your Sound Body and Meditation
deeply. You use meditative breathing, diaphragmatic breathing or calm abiding stillness breathing as a conduit to compliment these sounds. They work in tandem as you interact with the therapeutic and unique properties and their associated frequencies, harmonies, qualities of overtones, and rhythmic patterns. In my work, I create “sound baths” with specially made sounding bowls, sacred world instruments, as well as found objects with therapeutic properties. These include Tibetan and Himalayan bowls, crystal bowls, gongs, tuning forks, rainsticks, ocarina, Aboriginal didjeridu, my own voice, monochords, hand drums, natural sound ‘scapes’, wind chimes and other items. I’ve even incorporated meditative breathing into my long tone practices on my saxophone.
By Daniel Lauter To be mindfully aware of sound awakens your ‘sound body.’ You develop the ability to recognize both sound itself and the stillness that lies deep within each vibration. This enhances your mind body connection. The use of sound for personal transformation and therapeutic healing is rooted in physics. Everything in the universe is both in motion and vibrates. As an Integrative Sound Practitioner, I have always been drawn to vibration. We all have our favorite styles of music. When we listen, it brings a certain level of joy, energy or calm. What I refer to as the ‘sound body’ is one’s mental, physiological and metaphoric sum of responses to aural stimulus and vibration. When we bring awareness to our sound body we experience its positive vibratory psychoacoustic affects. Immersive sounds, which many consider healing, enter through our ears and our skin. They have effect on our cellular structure and central nervous system. This occurs through sympathetic vibration, bone conduction, melodic or rhythmic entrainment, and harmony. All things in the universe vibrate and have the potential to resonate sympathetically. The use of sound and vibration in meditations and mindfulness practice helps train you to listen 89
Crystal Bowls are found objects that are molded from crushed pure quartz. As the crystals sympathetically vibrate, they produce stunningly angelic long gentle tones. Tibetan and Himalayan bowls have special blends of metals that together produce a harmonic range of fundamental and overtones. These produce lush chords when struck that can trigger deeper meditations. These instruments all have a long sustain effect ideal for single pointed focus. The sustained tones create meditative brain wave states. Hand drums are used to create rhythmic entrainment, tuning forks to align your central nervous system to specific healing frequencies. Ocarinas are beautiful soothing wind instruments that create the archetype of breath. Aboriginal didjeridu (Yidaki), hollowed out tree branches that are blown with a buzzing or flapping sound in one end, uses circular breathing to keep a continuum of sound felt deeply by both the player and the listener, both vibrating. Rain sticks are wonderful to
transform and calm environments, as crystals ping inside a long tube that makes a sound like a river flowing. The ancient monochord makes a bed of sound called a drone. This type of sound occupies your mind while gently vibrating your body and it helps you to hold the space for relaxing meditations. They all have deeply resonant and thus relaxing properties.
as a sound meditation. In many cultures, you will find instruments or sound objects that have and can produce these properties. Instruments of this nature can act as a trigger to take meditations to a deeper level as well as to help re-focus when distractions occur. The associated vibrations are easy to physically hear or visually sense. As a result, I have experienced many successes in their use!
If you are able to identify a type of sound you â€˜resonateâ€™ with, you can then learn to use the sound
Daniel Lauter is a Musician, Integrative Sound Therapist, Wellness Educator and Mindfulness Instructor. One of the first to pioneer the experimental performance and vibrational qualities of Crystal Bowls in the United States, he developed an extensive palette and collection of sacred sounds which he brings to his work. Daniel customizes Wellness through Mindfulness, Sound Meditations, Audio & Visual Immersion, and Interactive Media. His Sound Baths and workshops in the use of sound in mindfulness and meditation have been presented at Southampton Arts Center, CoSM, ABC Home; for NYSAIS, ECIS and top New York schools. Artist inquiries, www.meditationdj.com, @_mindful_dan. 90
YOGA & CREATIVE ARTS
Mini’s Musings Nature’s Lament
Why are you so hostile? And full of vile, You have filled me with waste, In your haste, I have become impure, Diseased without a cure, Infected with human greed, By your every deed, I am crying, Cause I am dying, Please hear my voice, And make the right choice, To save the earth, And give it re-birth!
A Prayer for A Child For every child who screams in fright, When all alone at night, Who craves a gentle touch, Which is not much, But brings more joy, Than any expensive toy, For the abused child, who suffers pain, Whose tears run like the rain, For the child who cannot trust, As a victim of lust, For the child who cannot feel, As the scars do not heal, For the child whose life is an empty shell, Since home is living hell. For the child who runs a mile, Since she has forgotten to smile. I send a prayer to God above, Hoping every child finds love.
She thought this was a picnic, But she was a victim of human traffic, Sold as a slave, And told how to behave, Beaten black and blue, Why? She has no clue, Her body battered, Her soul shattered, Her dreams die, She has no place to lie.
..........................By Padmini Murthy MD, MPH, FAMWA, FRSPH
Inspiration Inspiration seems to only last a moment, As if that’s all its worth, Striking a chord, what may be dormant, And brings us back to the earth. It spurs us into, a frenzy of motion, Elevates us like a magic potion, We tend to close it out of our mind, But fail to realize, it is a great find. We can conquer the world with its spark, As it helps us to see through the dark, It gives us the gift of sight, When held close and tight! Giving hope for the lost souls of our age, Helping us to turn a new page!
V is for Valentines not Violence When there is Violence There is terrible silence, Raise your voice, To end this ugly noise! A Women is a Mother A sister and A daughter, Who we should cherish, And not let her perish! A woman is a treasure, Which has no measure, Give her teddy bears, But not salty tears! V is for valentines and not violence Let there be no more silence, But peace and harmony to Stay, As she brightens everyday!
OBSERVING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA AROUND THE WORLD
Global Celebrations of Yoga: The Yoga Day Summit and International Yoga Festival By Philip M. Hellmich
To celebrate the United Nations International Day of Yoga, The Shift Network, in association with Parmarth Niketan Ashram (Himalayas, India), UPLIFT (Australia) and numerous organizations, created the Yoga Day Summit - a free annual online event on June 21 showcasing yoga teachers and activities from around the world. The Yoga Day Summit offers insights into the ancient roots and deeper essence of yoga while also highlighting its role in the modern transformation of individuals and society. What makes the Yoga Day Summit all the more special is that a number of the interviews are filmed at the annual International Yoga Festival held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India - the Yoga Capital of the World. Parmarth Niketan, the largest ashram in Rishikesh and one of the largest spiritual institutions in India, is located on the banks of the holy Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayas, a few minutes walk from the historic site where The Beatles studied yoga and meditation in 1968. His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram. “Pujya Swamiji” is highly revered throughout the world and deeply loved by all the partners of the Yoga Day Summit. Working alongside Swamiji is Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, PhD, a monastic born in Hollywood, California and a graduate from Stanford University. Swamiji and Sadhviji, together with the dedicated team at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, host the annual International Yoga Festival that has steadily grown over the past 29 years and has become world renowned. In 2018, over 2,000 people from 100 countries attended the festival, bringing to life an experience of a “global yoga,” or union, amongst people of all races, religions, etc… The International Yoga Festival is a global celebration of yoga featuring world-renowned spiritual leaders, yoga teachers and experts, scientists, government officials, and musicians. Focused on the concept of union at all levels, the festival provides a rich opportunity for participants to explore yoga as union of body, mind and Spirit; union in families and relationships; union as a global community; union with Nature and all of Life; and, ultimately, union of soul with Spirit. And, there is much more to the International Yoga Festival. As Sadhviji says: People come to the International Yoga Festival thinking they are here to study with world-famous yoga teachers. Yes, that is part of it. And, then, they experience the
spiritual vibrations of Mother Ganga (Ganges River). That is why they are here: to be blessed by the Mother Goddess and the spiritual energies so many holy people. For thousands of years, saints and sages have lived in caves and walked the banks of Mother Ganga. There are spiritual vibrations that permeate the International Yoga Festival helping make it a life transforming experience. The Yoga Day Summit seeks to share an experience of the spiritual presence at the International Yoga Festival and highlight the relevance that the ancient science of yoga has to modern life. The Yoga Day Summit also seeks to demonstrate that yoga is helping to transform individuals, families and communities around the world, one posture, one breath, one person at a time. Here are excerpts from Yoga Day Summit interviews filmed at the International Yoga Festival (conducted by myself and Sandra de Castro Buffington, Founder and former Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact and longtime Kriya Yoga practitioner):
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji opens the Yoga Day Summit with a soulstirring blessing followed by an inspiring message about the significance of yoga and the International Day of Yoga -- “yoga means union, yoga means living consciously.”
Yoga: Service Naturally Arises from Oneness with Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji. Yoga is union of Self with Spirit. When embodying the awareness of Oneness, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji highlights how it becomes natural to serve all aspects of creation as part of your higher Self.
OBSERVING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA AROUND THE WORLD Stillness & Yoga: Allowing Health to Emerge through an Embodied Practice with Brian Siddharth Ingle. The ancient wisdom of the sages unites with modern medicine in this conversation with osteopath and renowned yoga teacher, Brian Siddharth Ingle. Brian, who studied with the great spiritual master Papaji, describes how health emerges from stillness... guided by a universal intelligence and the movement of love. An embodied yoga practice helps you access this innate state of being and radiant health.
Bridging Political Divides: Yoga, Self Responsibility & Collective Consciousness with Kia Miller World-renowned yoga teacher Kia Miller believes that in this time of political polarization, it’s essential to let go of blame and to stop attacking “the other.” It’s important to take responsibility for your own healing so you can act from a place of natural intelligence. In a dynamic conversation with Kia, we explore how the science of yoga can serve as a foundation for inner transformation, while contributing to the evolution of collective consciousness.
To watch the Yoga Day Summit 2018, click here. Philip M. Hellmich is a thought leader in creating a new narrative of peace, from inner peace to international peacebuilding. As the Director of Peace at The Shift Network, Philip is the chief architect of the Summer of Peace, Yoga Day Summit and World Peace Library - online global forums that seek to inspire, inform and involve people in the many ways that peace is emerging around the world. He also is the colead faculty of the Peace Ambassador Training. These peace programs provide skills training, inspirational stories, and powerful solutions from the world’s top peacebuilders, social change leaders, scientists, Indigenous elders and spiritual mentors. Philip and his colleagues design these peace programs in partnership with a number of organizations while advancing strategic initiatives, including the Alliance for Peacebuilding on re-wiring the brain for peace; International Cities of Peace in 93
Yoga Begins and Ends with Love with Anand Mehrotra. Anand Mehrotra shares how yoga brings you into deep union with the Divine — the very essence of life which is eternal love.
India Yoga Journey: Ganga Aarti from Rishikesh Reporting from the banks of the holy Ganges River at sunset, Sandra de Castro Buffington and Philip M. Hellmich provide a lively recap of the shared community experience of the Yoga Day Summit. Join them as they close this sacred time together by joining Parmarth Niketan in a beautiful Ganga Aarti ceremony from Rishikesh — also referred to by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji as the “evening happy hour.”
promoting 1,000 cities of peace; PeaceJam in promoting global peace education; and, numerous partners in celebrating the UN International Day of Peace. Philip has dedicated most of his life to global and local peacebuilding initiatives, including 14 years with Search for Common Ground. He also served for four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where he lived and worked in small remote bush villages. A published writer, Philip is author of God and Conflict: A Search for Peace in a Time of Crisis. Philip serves as a board member of the Rasur Foundation International and adviser to The Global Peace Initiative of Women, The Gaiafield Project, and The Oracle Institute. He is a member of the Rotary eClub of World Peace. Philip is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, a project of The Source of Synergy Foundation. He is also long-time meditation practitioner and enjoys studying and teaching about the parallels between inner and outer peace.
The International Day of Yoga Special Radio broadcast is available 24/7 on The Convergence Radio Series on VoiceAmerica, click here to listen to this special program.
Also on VoiceAmerica The Convergence Radio Series, a Spotlight on Yoga broadcast, click here to listen to this special program. To listen to all Convergence episodes and see the additional materials and videos from the programs go to http://www.1god.com/convergence and http://www.unity.earth/convergence.
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In Closing, from our Managing Editor With much joy and gratitude to Denise Scotto and the renowned contributors of this Special Edition, we honor the tireless work of the International Yoga Day Committee at the United Nations and all who bring yoga practices to communities across the world for greater wellbeing in heart, mind, body, and soul. For more articles on yoga, please be welcome to read Light on Light Magazineâ€™s Spring 2018 issue featuring a Spotlight on Yoga, click here to read and enjoy. Our next issue of Light on Light in Summer 2018 features New Congregations and Communities in the Era of Interspiritualityâ€”we welcome you to connect with us on Facebook and ISSUU. Namaste with Love, Rev. Shannon Marie Winters
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Light on Light from the Interspiritual Network, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating th...
Published on Jun 14, 2018
Light on Light from the Interspiritual Network, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating th...