We all met at various stages over the years on one or another of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living courses, so being on the course together felt like a bit of reunion with my mates. 8 years ago Kate and I met in India at The Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore when we were training to become Yoga Teachers, that was before we became mums. And Gavin and I met in Sydney 10 years ago on the DSN course – a dynamic self transformational course.
Kate, who also has a blog of her own (katesurfs) flew to Sydney from the Gold Coast (while pregnant) to do the Art of Silence course. It’s a great course to do when you’re pregnant and whether you’re pregnant or not it’s the sort of course that’s worth doing at least twice a year if you’re looking for a couple of holidays that you actually feel deeply relaxed from.
To do the Art of Silence course you need to have done the Happiness program. I did it in Zimbabwe in 2001. Kate did it in America in 2002 and Gavin did it in Australia in 2006. We all loved it so much that we ended up becoming volunteer teachers of it. On that course we leant the sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing practice that’s recognised by WHO (World Health Organisation) and we each started practicing it at home daily for 40 minutes. We all got our own benefits from it. Gavin got over his depression. Kate found that she gained clarity of mind and was more able to think clearly in stressful situations. To name just a few, I finally had a tangible experience of what it actually means to have peace of mind (something I wasn’t too familiar with before the course) and I found that with regular practice of the sudarshan kriya I had heaps more energy and was able to effortlessly get stuff done without struggle.
But since I became a parent my energy levels haven’t been as consistently high. There’ve been times when I’ve felt so depleted and worn out despite my daily practice of sudarshan kriya – like for the past few months. I had so many to-do’s I felt as though I’d actually become a to-do list. And it started to feel like I was existing and not actually fully living my life. I was going through the motions … cooking, listening to my little guy’s tears and tantrums, cleaning the apartment, picking up toys, more picking up, squeezing in some work, more cooking, tidying up after my kid, more cooking, more cleaning, packing lunch, washing clothes, packing clothes away, blah blah blah. Depleted. Exhausted. Nuts. And that’s why I registered for this 3.5 day the Art of Silence Course with Gavin and Kate (and 30 others), because feeling that way is a sure sign to me that I need to take more than just 40 minutes a day to turn inwards.
I’ve lost count now, but I’ve done the Art of Silence course about 22 times now … and as you can probably deduce – it’s one of my all time favourites. I’ve done it in various countries, including Zimbabwe, South Africa, Germany, India, Bali and Australia. And last week’s one in Sydney was awesome. Our days started at 6.30am and ended at 9pm. On the first day we did a huge variety very beautiful processes to prepare our minds for the meditations that we’d do over the next couple of days. Each morning started with a bit of yoga and sudarshan kriya, followed by many incredibly deep meditations through the day called Hollow and Empty meditations, guided by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s voice. We also watched a few videos of Sri Sri. His humour and wisdom and that of our beautiful teacher, Chris Dale (who’d flown in from Melbourne to take us through the course), gracefully guided us through the course. At the end of the first day we began 2.5 days of silence – no talking, no calling home, no writing, no reading, no Facebook, texting or emails. That in itself was heavenly. Total technological detox. And mums, imagine this – being served beautiful homemade food for 4 days in a row!
3.5 days of quality time has been the best gift ever. Every part of my being feels intensely nourished and cared for. I’ve feel that the stress and tiredness I was carrying have fallen off me. I wasn’t holding into any major stresses, but the general accumulation of all the small stuff that builds up each day from taking care of a kid and not having (or making) enough time to really attend to your self. I feel gently but thoroughly revved up and ready to be the best version of myself again.
When I’m on the course I’m not just there for me – sure, it’s my body, but I’m representing my family, my community, and in one way I feel I’m doing a bit towards taking a stand for world peace – starting with myself. If I’m frustrated and upset it affects not just the people who come into immediate contact with me, like my kids and hubby, but those nearby and the environment too – a kind of emotional pollution. When I do something that benefits me and has me feel awesome from the inside out then those around me automatically get positively impacted in one way or another because I react less, I’m that much more patient, kinder, happier.
I’m aiming to do the Art of Silence course twice a year again … like I used to before I became a mum. After all – the more you take care of yourself the more able you are to take care of those around you, right?
PS. The next Happiness Course I’ll be teaching in Sydney starts on the 23rd of August 2016. There are currently 5 places left on the course. If you want to do the Happiness Program with me then register here now.
And for all you mums and dads, the timings of my next Weekend Yoga Course have been made specifically with you in mind. Starting next weekend in Mosman, on the 25th of June. Come and join me if you feel you need some quality time to yourself.