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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Art of Living Foundation Opens Charlotte Center - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Visits

Dec 16, 2008 05:39PM
By Lisa Moore

“Art is appreciation of what is. Start appreciating life itself, and not the accessories of life – the moment you start doing that you have learned the Art of Living”

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar The Art of Living Foundation, a non-profit, non-denominational educational organization, opens its newest center in Charlotte this month. In honor of the 25th anniversary of The Art of Living Foundation, founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will visit the Queen City as his only southeastern stop on the Jubilee Tour.

The international foundation, well known for its humanitarian work across the globe, assists those from all walks of life to make lasting changes that improve the quality of their lives. As the world’s largest non-governmental association, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) works with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations on various committees and activities relating to education, health, conflict resolution and sustainable development.

When he started the Art of Living Foundation, Shankar had no particular mission in mind, just an intention to share and from that its purpose unfolded naturally. Shankar feels that the whole world is his family and has always felt a sense of belongingness to everyone. “When I see people, I see them as my own self… like my own fingers, my own parts. We have to realize that the world is one family. We can't stay in isolation. We have to leave the differences, and dialogue should be the language of the future.”

The immense social work Shankar has undertaken stems from his commitment to rejuvenating human values, creating a violence-free society and enabling people to lead happier, healthier, stress-free lives. Spirituality is the underlying current in all of his teachings and projects. “Spirit represents love, compassion and service. It is all those things that you can't hold on to… which (are not) concrete. Spirituality is that which enhances this understanding, brings you peace of mind, makes you happier, more compassionate, awakens a want to serve, etc. It makes you realize that your life is much more than what you think it is,” says Shankar.

The foundation adheres to two basic steps to facilitate change. Believing that the basis of a stable, successful civilization is a strong individual, the first step is to strengthen each person by providing self-development programs that allow the full human potential to blossom. The Art of Living Foundation’s educational and self-development programs designed by Shankar integrate modern methods with ancient wisdom to provide powerful yet simple and practical tools that eliminate stress, bring the mind to the present moment and increase one's energy, enthusiasm, clarity and creativity. These powerful skills promote centeredness in daily living and are simple to learn and easy to practice.

The second step is for these strong individuals to be inspired to take more responsibility in the space of love and caring, and serve society. The Art of Living Foundation’s humanitarian service programs are based on a simple premise: to be available whenever, wherever and whatever the need be. Participating in the AOLF creates a sense of belonging, restores human values, and encourages people from all backgrounds, religions, and cultural traditions to come together in celebration and service.

“The ultimate purpose of life is to be of service. An uncommitted mind is miserable. A committed mind may at times experience rough weather, but it will reap the fruits of its toil. When you make service your sole purpose in life, it eliminates fear, focuses your mind and gives you meaning. Turn inward and be active outward!” notes Shankar.

The AOLF has offered programs in Charlotte since 2001 and now the city will play host to the world’s newest center. After five years of locating venues for courses, the local volunteers are excited to finally have an official home. The spacious center will be the host to various courses that deal with practical knowledge, managing the mind and stress relief. Weekly follow-ups for course points and knowledge will also be conducted.

 “The purpose of the new center is to create an atmosphere for our programs that fosters deep relaxation, spirituality and service back to the world. Our goal is to enliven and empower the individual to give back to society,” says Nancy DiSilverio, who was so impressed by how complete the program was that she became a full time teacher for the AOLF 14 years ago.

The self-improvement program is twofold. It offers a knowledge foundation that provides detailed research about the effects of stress and how to handle the challenge of each stress. Secondly, it provides simple, effective techniques to manage stress. “It’s amazing what can happen to a person in a few days just by breathing. If someone never did the program again, they would know something transformative had happened. No one comes through the program without an ‘Aha!’ moment,” adds DeSilverio. Local volunteer, Ritesh Mathur, acknowledges that participating in the AOLF program has redirected his life. "The Art of Living courses helped me manage stress and enabled me to become more self-aware.† I also learned that people are all trying to get to the same place in life but have different paths to get there, and this one commonality is what can bond society. I am very excited for Charlotte's new center to offer these programs on a regular basis. We are honored that His Holiness is visiting Charlotte to offer his grace and wisdom. I urge all to take advantage of this unique and rare opportunity to come meet our founder and see what the organization represents,” says Mathur.

During Shankar’s stop in Charlotte, The Art of Living Foundation will hold two events open to everyone. Held on July 14, “Success without Stress” offers the public an opportunity to share in dialogue with Shankar and will include questions and answers, a guided meditation and music. “Leading into the Light,” a day-long seminar on July 15, combines new deep relaxation techniques to calm the mind and reduce tension in the body, along with unsurpassed knowledge delivered with practicality, charm and humor by Shankar himself.   Shankar’s simple message of love, practical wisdom and service encourages harmony, and teaches everyone to follow their chosen religious or spiritual path while honoring the path of others. He offers these beautiful words to live by: “In love you don’t say, ‘I have done enough.’ In love you say, ‘What more can I do? What more can I do for the world?’ ”

The Art of Living Foundation is located at 8632 Wilkinson Blvd. in Charlotte. The center is gratefully accepting donations of furniture, office equipment, pillows, yoga mats, etc. The next course will be offered July 27- August 1. For more info contact 704-578-2434, [email protected] or

Lisa Moore is a freelance writer in Charlotte, NC.

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