Home' Nova National : February 2010 Contents 12
© NOVA FEBRUARY 2010
I am simply there for anybody whether
they want to call me or not call me."
On the first evening, we are all told he
is going to see Phillip Island's famous
penguin parade and we can all join him.
Instantly, I decide I do not want to pay the
coach and admission cost, deciding in my
mind that I can take myself off to see the
penguins if I want to in my own time.
Ironically, I meet up with another
participant who is equally adamant that
she does not need to see the penguins
either. So instead we go for a walk and get
inspiration for doing a joint writing and
art project together.
It is in that moment I realise this
inspiration is similar to the guidance on
writing about plants and flowers a year
and a half ago when I first experienced
Sudarshan Kriya. Again, it is so strong I just
know I need to act on it.
During the course, we eat only
vegetarian food and are asked to imbibe
no stimulants including caffeine. We do a
series of exercises to observe the workings
of the ego. In one, we have to tell another
person 10 good points about ourselves
followed by 10 negative traits. I find it
particularly hard to list my positive traits
and do not enjoy the exercise at all.
But Sri Sri explains that praising
yourself is praising the divine, just as
praising a painting is praising the artist,
and finding it difficult to do so is due to
ego and guilt.
"Start praising yourself and start
praising others," he says, "and stop
blaming yourself and stop blaming others."
We spend two days in silence and
during that time perform several powerful
guided meditations that Sri Sri has
devised. When I have overcome my desire
to communicate with everyone I come
across, I discover how restful it is to not
have to talk. I also become painfully aware
of how active my little mind is, as even in
the depths of meditation I catch it
I come away at the end of the three
and a half days not only feeling detoxified,
both mentally and physically, and
revitalised, but also knowing that I am
equipped with the techniques to support
a happier, healthier life. When at the end
of the course people talk about their
experiences and two women who have
both suffered from severe cancer explain
how they believe regularly practising the
Sudarshan Kriya breathing has helped
maintain their health, it really hits home
what a valuable tool I have been given.
Sri Sri explained that his purpose for
setting up the Art of Living Foundation in
1982 was "to see a smile on every face"
and reminded us of the high numbers of
people in the world who are depressed.
"Pain is unavoidable," he says, "but
suffering is optional."
Now I start to understand the
adoration I see in Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 's
devotees, because health and happiness I
believe is the greatest gift I could ever ask
for. I also realise that how I respond in this
man's presence and how I view him is my
unique way, expressed quite differently,
for example, to many of the Indian course
participants. But that does not lessen the
fact that I want to continue to learn from
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and I feel honoured
that I now have guidance from someone
who can teach me so much. I think I
understand now what it means to "have a
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from page 9 Choosing Kindness
from page 11
"Pain is unavoidable," he says, "but suffering is
We can increase sattva in our life
by being in nature, smelling the roses,
listening to Vivaldi, eating wholefoods
and doing things that bring peace and
joy. Just thinking about that which is
calm and beautiful enhances sattva and
increases ojas in the body.
Described by Kester as the gatekeeper
of our tissues and the essence of our
immunity, ojas is a golden, honey-like,
unctuous liquid located primarily in the
heart. We can nurture it by maintaining
strong agni and good digestion, as well
as taking the breath (prana) deep into
our body to build vitality. If you pursue
life with dryness and sharpness -- grasping
at answers (a vata quality) -- you burn out
your tissues, explains Doko.
Buddha-like with his shining blue
eyes, round belly, gentle humour and air
of contentment, Doko encourages us to
let go of the distractions of the thinking
mind, its opinions and views, and instead
to feel into, and relate to, the present
moment as it is.
"This is the path of Outshining
Distraction. We can experience what it
feels like to calmly recognise and accept
an imbalance or illness in our body or
mind, take responsibility for it, and work or
seek help to heal it with warmth, patience
and precision." This way, he explains, we
lose interest in the search for answers
and instead gain interest in what lies
beyond the divided thinking mind.
It is not about abandoning our
habitual thoughts and desires, but about
caring for them, being kind and loving
towards them. Doko recommends winking
at them and giving them a half smile.
Once we abandon the striving, we can be
friendly and accepting of ourselves in a
way that maintains, rather than clouds,
clarity. As we relax our attention from the
pursuit of a solution -- we allow life to reveal
itself to us -- this is precision.
Towards the end of the retreat, I get a
taste of what it is to let go of the resistance
and to feel into space, simplicity, warmth
and loving kindness. With views of the
ocean filtered through tropical foliage
and palm trees and nothing but the
chatter of birds to pierce the morning
silence (we maintain silence from our
evening meditation through to the first
lecture of the morning), I am deeply
moved by the warmth and softness all
around me. Ahh, I think to myself, this is
Later, during that morning's
meditation, I drop down into the depths
and feel and breathe my way past the
mental chatter. Tears of joy mixed with
wistfulness, even a tinge of loneliness,
quietly well up and flow over. Recognising
how much of my life has been spent in
a contracted place of impatience, self
judgement and striving, I am sitting in
self kindness; tasting it, feeling it and
reaching out to it with gratitude. Dropping
into kindness, the word, the feeling
and the sense of it produce an intense
emotion -- perhaps relief -- that is hard to
put into words. It is a release into a place
within me that feels both familiar and all
Now, when I find myself frittering
energy and being led astray by my
thinking mind, I go back to Doko's
teachings and am nourished anew.
"Really delicious balanced food,
deep laughter, mindful breathing, love,
compassion and sweet music -- don't
these things help us be more in touch with
our bodies and minds and also with what
is painful, confusing and truly difficult in
the world? Don't romanticise complexity.
Don't dismiss simplicity. Take it seriously.
Devote yourself to its Kingdom. Be its
servant, lover, friend."
Extracts taken from: Feeling into Human Warmth &
Wisdom Lectures On The Path of Outshining Distraction
by Sensei Michael Doko Hatchett, part of the Medicine
of Life As-it-Is Series published by the Mudita Institute.
'Our fast paced, multi tasking, goal oriented lifestyle tends
to encourage a predominance of vata, and it is the vata
element that increases as we age.'
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