By Eric Kuznar
The Art of Living Foundation, a nonprofit volunteer organization founded in 1981 by humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, tries to help residents in Indianapolis and surrounding areas relieve stress.
Shankar started the foundation to help create a stress- and violence free society.
Art of Living Foundation offers a free “Happiness Hour” session every Tuesday, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Art of Living Center at 6801 Lake Plaza Dr., Indianapolis.
Swami Padmanabhan, happiness program instructor and Fishers resident, said the session includes a discussion on how to handle stress followed by guided meditation.
The foundation teaches a breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya that Shankar created after a 10-day period of silence in 1982.
Padmanabhan said he first got involved with the organization during his sophomore year of college while studying to become and electronic engineer at Anna University in India.
“I was looking for some way to handle my emotions,” Padmanabhan said. “The technique was working. I started getting really high marks. By the time I graduated I was one of only seven or eight people to graduate with distinction.”
Fishers resident Shalin Desai, director of volunteer training programs, said the breathing technique has helped him in all parts of his life, including his job as a mechanical engineer at Navistar.
“One thing that is common across all the races, countries, or people from different parts of the world is that we all breathe,” Desai said. “The second thing that is common is that people do get stressed. There is a connection within breath and emotions.”
Earlier this year Shankar helped to end the 52-year civil war in Columbia acting as a mediator between the government and the guerilla movement FARC.
Art of Living also offers paid 16-hour happiness programs to learn the breathing and meditation techniques. The next happiness program is Sept. 23-25 at Art of Living Center in Indianapolis.