My son or daughter is encountering emotional problems. Can you help?
Teenage depression is of great concern today. The suicide rate in teenagers has tripled since 1970. Statistics show that slightly over 50% of those students suffering from acute depression in their teenage years go on to attempt suicide at a later date. Dr. Pepper notes, “Paying attention to children who are depressed or anxious becomes a national priority.” In a study of childhood depression, Dr. Richard Harrington (July 2000) notes that depression “could be associated with effects of social and cognitive functioning” and that “symptoms such as loss of concentration and psychomotor retardation may interfere with the process of learning. This in turn might lead to low self esteem, a reduced sense of academic competence and further academic failure.”

Another study of adolescent and childhood disorders notes that the price of non-treatment is the tendency to “self-medicate” depression or anxiety by using drugs or alcohol. Since the majority of stress factors affecting youth in schools today parallel the psychosocial difficulties noted by research consistent with depressed youth, and because the rate of depression in youth is increasing, any serious educational endeavor must address these issues. Three open studies have shown that SKY can significantly improve depression. Refer to medical summary page. “73% of patients showed improvement following SKY (techniques) therapy. SKY... was effective in depression regardless of the severity of depression or the severity of the patient’s biological dysfunction.

(Refer to Art of Living Foundation, Sudarshan Kriya Medical Research Summary Page for references of studies www.aolresearch.org).

Are these Yoga courses?
The courses use techniques inspired by Yoga, but place them in a much broader context of practical, personal development. There are also breathing techniques, including the unique and powerful Sudarshan Kriya ®.

What is the Sudarshan Kriya®?
This is the main breathing technique taught in most of our programs: Art Excel, Yes (children and youths learn special versions of Sudarshan Kriya for their age groups), Yes+, Part 1. It was created by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 1982, and has given deep relaxation to over course graduates to date. The Sudarshan Kriya is such an effective relaxation technique, that is used in programs for those suffering the greatest stresses imaginable – people suffering trauma after natural disasters and wars. Part of the Art of Living programs is a set of daily relaxation exercises, which course graduates take home with them, including a home version of the Sudarshan Kriya. To find out more, contact an Art of Living representative near you.

I am a religious person. Is there any reason I should not do an Art of Living course? Is there any conflict with my religion?
The Art of Living is open people of all faiths, atheists, people of every nationality. We respect all the religions and cultures of our members, who include representatives of all the world’s traditions. In fact, one of our basic statutory goals is to provide a place for people of various backgrounds to come together. Our techniques are similarly universal – they are based on breathing, which we all do!

I am not a religious or spiritual person. Perhaps the Art of Living programs are not for me?
See the previous answer!

What does the Art of Living offer to teenagers?
Everyone interested in a sport will know about a famous sportsperson who had more talent than their competitors, but lost because of nerves on the big day. They could not perform best under pressure. The YES courses deal with just those personal skills that make a difference.

The Art of Living Foundation combines its knowledge and experience in the areas of personal development and community service to open up new dimensions in learning that will produce unequivocal positive and measurable results in students’ exam results, performance in sports, the arts, as well as in terms of self esteem, inter-personal relationships, team work, sense of responsibility and a global perspective.

How do The Art of Living programs help children at school?
The Art of Living’s Art Excel course supports the all-round development of kids, providing the perfect backdrop - in terms of coping skills, interpersonal abilities - to the specific intellectual, sports, artistic and other abilities they are learning.

One of the greatest inhibitors to learning is stress. Unmanaged emotional reactions to stress not only lead to behavior problems in young people, but also create physiological conditions that inhibit learning and potentially increase the risk of disease later in life (McCraty, Atkinson, Tomasino, Goelitz, Mayrovitz 1999).

Who are the courses aimed at?
Everyone! The Art of Living programmes offer something for everyone:
If you’re a young professional or a student, the dynamic Yes+ course is for you! (Click here for course dates near you.) If you’re looking to handle everyday stresses and strains, enjoy some quality relaxation, perhaps learn something about breathing techniques or meditation – the Part 1 course is for you. (Click here for course dates near you.) If you’re a parent and you’d like to help your children deal with emotions – as well as having a great time with other kids their age! – take a look at our Art Excel program. If you’d like to get more fit and flexible, Sri Sri Yoga courses.

If you’re a manager or an executive, click here to visit the APEX website. (APEX is not just for managers and executives – it is offered to employees in companies etc – If you have or have had a serious health problem, or if you take medication, speak to an Art of Living teacher before signing up for a course – you may need to go steadily with some of the exercises and in consultation with your doctor.

What if the Art of Living course is not offered in my area, or the right program for me?
If there is no course offered in your area, contact the teacher nearest you, if you can form a small group of course participants from among your friends, that trainer will be able to come or arrange another trainer in their place. Please visit the Art of Living India site for contact details.

How do I find out if the Art of Living course is offered in my area?
Please visit the Art of Living India site.

Meditation and breathing techniques [learnt on the Art of Living Part I course and the Sahaj Samadhi meditation course] calm the mind. They help us feel good. But in our daily life we have to handle paying bills, parking tickets and other mundane things.

You take a shower in the morning to clean your body. After that, you do all your daily activities. You don't have to keep on taking a shower throughout the day! It is like that. You meditate and calm your mind, then go on with other activities. It is not easy to keep yourself undisturbed but it will happen as you keep doing the practices regularly. Then it will become easy.

The Sudarshan Kriya is known to be a de-stressing technique. Does it bring about a change in people in terms of their perception of life?
When you are free from stress, your perception, observation and expression will be different. When you are stressed, it will be different.

Can you talk about fear and letting go of fear, and why it’s so difficult to do?
It’s not difficult, just take a few deep breaths, do a few Bhastrikas and pranayams [breathing techniques from the Part I course] and that’s it. Where’s the fear? Fear is just love upside down. You have to turn it the right way up. When there is love there is no fear, and when there is hatred there is no fear. Two types of people in the world have no fear - those who are in love, and those who are in hatred. Both love and hatred create a sensation in the heart region.

We do this in a 5-, 6-days Part II course, in which we discuss all different emotions and the places in the body where they are generated, how they are affected and so how they can be handled. For 5 days - of which 3 days you remain in silence - we observe different sensations, emotions and come to understand better. No fear!

Do you feel Ayurveda is the most comprehensive of traditional healthcare systems and could you explain what Ayurveda is as well?
Ayurveda, Ayurvedic medicines have been proven to be have no side effects at all and have been practiced for thousands of years. So I feel we have to take the diagnostic systems from allopathy and there are other modern gadgets we have to use. But as far as treating the patients, once the diagnosis is done, it [Ayurveda] seems to be working very well. Again, you know, we can't be very fanatical about any system. We have to have a holistic approach to health because if we are fanatically attached to any one system, I think we will not be benefited the most. Definitely Ayurveda, I feel, has been time tested for many ages and it has helped millions of people keep their health. You know, there are people who are living healthily for 100 years, or for over 100 years, and their health is sustained by just Ayurveda - in many parts of the Himalayan region, in Tibet, in Southern India. It's amazing how it works if you follow certain principles, not just the medicine aspect of it, but also the lifestyle - how you eat, what you eat, when you fast, and how much water to drink. I think it's most valuable, though it has to undergo more research and scientific up-grading for today's world. To find out more, visit the Sri Sri Ayurveda site.

What's the practicality of Ayurveda in modern world?
Its very practical. No other science teaches you to measure a person's tendency just by looking at the person. It’s precious knowledge. It not only cures diseases but prevents them too.

Regarding the applicability of sustainable development or human values to the conflict in the middle east to Iraq to Afghanistan. I would ask if you have any particular insights you feel that you would like to offer?
You know now we can go on analyzing the past, whatever happened, speak for or against any action or opinion, but that will not lead us anywhere now or in the future. What is needed now is a trauma relief programs that people can do today. Millions of people are suffering from post-war trauma. They are unable to sleep, they are unable to eat, and they are unable to get along with their lives or think about the future. So we are planning to open further trauma relief centers as we did already in Kosovo, in Bosnia, the former Yugoslavia, and Sedonia and Russia and also in Kashmir and where we had a lot of terrorist problems. [Art of Living trauma-relief centers also make use of Sudarshan Kriya and other powerful breathing techniques from art of Living courses in the context of programs directly addressing the circumstances of trauma sufferers.]

Why do Sudarshan Kriya?
Everyone should do Kriya, it is like washing the body, everyday, if not done weekly or fortnightly, or monthly... the more often this is done the better it is. This makes us strong, and we can stop doing Sudarshan Kriya the day we become unshakable. ‘Unshakeable’ means that whatever happens we have a smile on our faces.

What is a ‘sixth sense’ and is it ok to follow it?
Yes, it is ok to follow your intuition. That’s why you do Pranayama, meditation - your intuition becomes strong and that’s why you can take proper decisions.

What is the best thing to do for children?
... to give them a good education...make them blossom....We have a program called Art Excel - All Round Training in Excellence...If you take a look at statistics...in a class of forty students, how many does friends does a child have? A handful. I tell children to make one new friend everyday. We need to teach them human values: friendliness, compassion - this awakening and education is what we must strive for.

As a teacher, I have been trying to inculcate human values in my children. Whenever I digress from the usual curriculum, I find them a little bit bored, looking at their watches etc.

You must make it more juicy. Our experience is the other way around. The moment something is different from the curriculum, they simply get glued to it and they want more. Are there any Art-Excel teachers here? The children just grab the Art Excel program and they don’t let the teachers go home! Just anything extra-curricular may not be interesting but something which is so juicy, which makes them learn interactively, which has games included in it will make them take interest in it.

What are the benefits of meditation?
You get less/no blood pressure problems; health problems reduce/stop; your mind becomes clear, intuition develops; obstacles are removed; mental peace, happiness dawns - and there are plenty of other benefits as well.