About the Book
Learn to make the most of your life- it is possible to live without stress
We live in a World that moves so fast that we're in a perpetual race to keep up without even realizing it. Living in fast-forward mode with no time to breathe is sadly seen as a sign of a successful career or a fabulous social life.
What we're losing sight of is that stress holds us back from reaching our full potential. It makes us uptight. And it not just our body that's affected, but also our peace of mind. We're tense, edgy and reactive, effectively blocking the free flow of our creative energy. Do we really want to live a life where each day feels like a giant to do list whose tasks we must complete?
The decades-long work of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has proven that managing stress is as valuable an exercise as managing stress is as valuable an exercise as managing one's time. With body postures, breathing exercise, meditation and the knowledge of basic spiritual principles, it is far easier to combat daily stressors and stay on the path to fulfilment. The Art of Stress-Free Living will show you how clarity of mind supports your intuitive intelligence and will give you the freedom to live out new paradigms you'll start finding surprising solutions to previously insurmountable problems and learn to live artfully, freely and happily so that you can make the most of every day.
Take the first step towards a stress-free and fruitful life, starting NOW!
About the Author
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born in 1956. He is the founder of The Art of Living Foundation, a Humanitarian organization that is represented in over 150 countries worldwide. In addition to humanitarian work, It instructs people in spiritual stress management. The breathing exercise that are taught in special workshop of The Art of Living are, next to meditation prayer and contemplation the most powerful tools to achieve mental clarity, inner peace, trust and confidence. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is an ambassador of peace. He communicates his vision of a world free of stress and violence at international forums and global meeting, including at the United Nations, Global Economy Forums or the Protestant Church Forum, to name just a few.
I met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the first time in 2006 in Bangalore at the conference 'Human Values and Ethics in the Global Scenario' marking the 25th anniversary of The Art of Living Foundation. I had been invited by Regina Bonsel. What I experienced there was beyond my imagination; the humanitarian aid that Sri Sri and his organization have accomplished over the years is absolutely un paralleled.
My foundation sponsors their projects 'Euro- a-Day' as well as 'Youth with the Vision' which are quite exemplary. It really doesn't require too much effort to satisfy this basic principle 'Help to self-help:
I was particularly touched visiting the school where the reciting of old Vedic texts is part of the modern school education. It's an effective way to combine the traditional with the modern.
That is why I am particularly delighted to be writing the foreword to this book, which will be published for the 30th anniversary of The Art of Living Foundation. The key aim of this movement are the preservation and the re-awakening of human values as well as the creation of better coexistence in our globalised world - one of the main themes of our times. The organization reaches its goals through diverse breathing and meditation programmes for stress reduction as well as through social non-profit engagement in countless humanitarian projects.
Our living together cannot function properly without observing human values. These values are universal. I myself have experienced this in working together with musicians from all over the world. In spite of our different backgrounds it is again and again possible to unite our instruments into one sound, into real music.
Welcome into this life with the first breath in and leave this world with the last breath out. Between this first in-breath and the last out-breath our lives unfold. When a longing arises in us for silence, inner peace and spiritual freedom, that longing signifies the beginning of our journey to the source of our beingness.
More than 20 years ago this longing led me onto the spiritual path. I wanted once and for all to overcome my perceived limitations and do something that had meaning beyond my personal life. The inner restlessness that had haunted me since my early youth seemed to come to a full top at the first meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in autumn of 1987 in Marburg. I experienced an expansion within me that I couldn't at first express with words and yet that felt very tangible: silence, spaciousness - and then I returned to my usual patterns of behaviour. I continued to rely on my rational mind, but something within me had already caught fire.
As a woman who was used to relying upon her mind it was painful to experience its natural limitations. Not everything that I had experienced and not all that had happened to me could be explained by the mind. I was only in my mid- twenties when I started upon the path that I am describing and sharing with you here.
I entered my spiritual practice through yoga. Starting with the body, then to the breath, then to silence and finally to meditation. Today I cannot imagine my life without yoga asanas, pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya - a dynamic breathing process - and meditation.
Simply to be, to become silent, to let the thoughts come and go, to observe and be aware. Day after day, year after year, over and over again and always fresh and new. It's nothing spectacular, for that is our nature. I watch everything that happens and I become a witness to all happenings.
These exercises allow me to connect with myself and even with God. They are a wonderful way to start the day. Afterwards I feel as if I have already accomplished everything that I'm supposed to do. I begin the day with this serenity and in utter humility. Belief is a matter of the head; devotion a matter of the heart; and meditation brings the two together.
Spirituality means nothing else but to take the journey back home, to our source. Spiritual knowledge offers very specific approaches of how to better cope with the stress that arises from both the large and small crises in everyday life. When we can free ourselves from stress we allow our innermost being to emerge.
We are made of the substance called love. Just as a thin layer of dust upon a mirror prevents us from seeing ourselves clearly, so does stress obscure our true being. The means by which we shake off the dust of our everyday lives is the breath.
Breathing exercises have been known especially in the Eastern traditions for thousands of years, although they are also not completely unknown in our Western culture. One only has to think of the Christian spiritual retreat exercises.
Breath means life. Get involved with your own breath and you will be astonished: with each in- breath you take energy into yourself, with each out- breath you let go of all tension, all struggle, all worries and all suffering.
Beneath our personality lies a fine layer that we call the spiritual, or the layer of being-ness. We can influence the overlying levels in ourselves quite easily by accessing this deeper layer. The breath has the power to connect us to that inner layer. This is the reason why all spiritual traditions pay attention to the breath. Healing always happens from inside out. This is also essentially the holistic approach of spiritual stress management: through the body to the breath to the meditation - daily practice just for a few minutes is the key to mastery and success.
With this book I'd like to introduce to you Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's systematic, spiritual stress management programme that is based on the courses that are being offered by The Art of Living Foundation. With its five pillars it outlines a direct way to spiritual growth: breathing exercises, yoga asanas, meditation, the knowledge of the basic spiritual principles and selfless service in order to actively participate in social humanitarian aid as an expression of inner blossoming.
Guided meditation allows beginners as well as practitioners of meditation to experience their own silence. Meditation brings our outer aspect in harmony with the inner and makes the spiritual knowledge in this book available for direct experience. You will look upon your life in a relaxed
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