· SITUATIONBEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN :
As we approach next century, economic disparity,social, political, and even ecological factors have increased the challenges ofdaily living. The result is that people across all cultures experience elevatedlevels of stress and tension.
This emotional distress poses added burdens to health.Scientific evidence demonstrates that one's emotional state has a direct impacton immune system function, quality and length of life. Psychological factorsmediate disease process across a wide range of illnesses includingcardiovascular, HIV, gastrointestinal disease and cancer. This understanding isthe cornerstone of mind/body medicine. Healing and resistance to disease arenot simply functions of the body, but also one's state of mind and emotionssignificantly affect physical health.
While this is true, virtually nowhere has humankindbeen taught how to handle emotions. Neither at home, nor in school, nor in thehealth care system have we learned systematic tools to prevent or dissipateunwanted emotions. There is a great need for this now as well as into the nextcentury.
· PREPARINGINFORMATION AND CLARIFYING PRIORITIES
Our Workshops offer systematic, time-tested healthpractices to fill this need. It is based upon knowledge of how the breathserves as a connecting link between mind and body. In addition to triggeringneuropeptides, every emotion creates a specific rhythm or pattern in thebreath. There is an observable difference -- when one is afraid the breathbecomes fast and shallow, when content it is light and smooth, when depressedit becomes heavy. Rather than allowing the emotions to alter the breath andcause physiological changes which may be unhealthy, one can skillfully use thebreath to transform one's mental and emotional state. One's breath plays avital role in how effectively the mind, body and emotions interact to createhealth.
· OBJECTIVES: FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES, STRATEGIES
To achieve the goal of addressing the global publichealth challenge, we:
* Provide cost-effective and efficient methods forprevention of illness and restoration of health.
* Provide a non-pharmacological self-help strategywhich creates self-reliant individuals. This frees medical staff for use inonly complex critical care, thus maximizing health care dollars.
* As part of our global Health initiatives, teach theHealing Breath techniques to large numbers of people as standard treatment. Thetechniques are set and systematic. They are fully compatible with all culturesand community care models. The programme is non-invasive and complementary toany other treatment modality or community improvement endeavor.
* Elevate health and self-sufficient quality of lifefor people in all sectors of society world-wide. The benefit received by theindividual in turn directly becomes a benefit to the greater global community.
· DESCRIPTIONOF THE PROCESS
The Art of Living offers training to the population at large for prevention ofdisease and restoration of health. The Workshop offers breathing techniqueswhich purify and energise the body, eliminate stress, improve vitality andexpand awareness. Cognitive processes are also taught which provide practicalcoping strategies that can be applied to diffuse stresses as they arise indaily life, i.e. frustration, anger etc. These are all well-documented toenhance physical strength and flexibility, balance the nervous system and helpone maintain a calm and centered mind.
The unique and powerful practice of Sudarshan Kriya(SKY), the Healing Breath Technique (HBT) conceived by our Founder, Sri SriRavi Shankar, is imparted during the course. This technique utilises specificrhythms of breath to energise, cleanse and restore harmony to the whole system.
The practice of the above mentioned techniquecleanses the body of physical and emotional toxins at the cellular level;Creates an oxygen rich environment within the body, making it difficult forviruses to survive; Provides the body with the increased energy necessary forgenerating and maintaining a high level of health; Requires only a few minutestime to practice daily.
Evidence of the positive impact of the Workshop onhealth comes from a large number of individual case histories, doctors andallied health professionals' reports, field reports and clinical trials.
The AOLF has created an International ResearchCommittee (IRC) comprised of medical doctors, psychologists and researchers toassess the impact of its programmes. The IRC has created an internationaldatabase of case histories reflecting significant improvement in, and inseveral instances complete recovery from, a broad spectrum of health problems.Among these are disorders of cardiovascular, auto-immune, endocrine,musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, respiratory, central and peripheral nervoussystems.
Mental Health Highlights
Several studies have examined the effects of the HBTon depression and other psychological disorders. Clinical trials and laboratorystudies have been conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at theNational Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India.
One clinical trial assessed the therapeutic benefitand clinical applicability of HBT on dysthymic disorders and found that 67.5%of the subjects remitted. This particular trial employed stringent criteria,and relief was achieved within two to four weeks. This study has been submittedfor review to the British Journal of Psychiatry and The Journal of BiologicalPsychiatry.
Preliminary findings from another ongoing NIMHANSstudy on melancholic depression suggest that after twelve weeks of treatmentthe HBT by itself is as effective as standard drug therapy.
N. Janakiramaiah, M.D., Ph.D., D.H.P., Chairman ofthe Department of Psychiatry and Director of Yoga Research Group at NIMHANS,concludes that HBT is "... clinically feasible and effective. It has thepotential to become a first-line treatment for dysthymia and possible mild andmoderate forms of major depressive disorders." Furthermore, one Indianprovince has decreed that the first-line treatment for depressive disorders inall of its medical facilities must be HBT before drugs or electroconvulsivetherapy (ECT) can be administered. This is because the HBT is easy toadminister, highly effective - and it works.
Physical Health Highlights
Results have been striking in many individuals livingwith HIV/AIDS. In a pilot study of the Healing Breath Programmes with thispopulation, funded by Ayurveda Resources of New York, subjects reported thefollowing: 71% decreased lymphadenopathy; 88% improved digestion; 50% elevatedenergy levels; 83% decreased pain; 71% decreased depression; 63% increasedmental clarity; and 100% increased inner peace.
An additional case history replicates these findings.A 42-year-old male reports: "... for the past eight years my bloodplatelets have been measured in the 25,000 to 50,000 range and I have requiredIVIG treatments every three weeks to maintain this level ... As I regularlypractised HBT, within two months they began rising to 65,000 and then to105,000. My viral burden has been dropping from 24,000 to its now undetectablelevel and my T-cells have increased 20%." (See attached medical recordsand statement for more detail. Also see attached letter of endorsement fromHIV/AIDS Health Groups.)
Evidence of success with hypertension and obesitycomes from Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, USA, whereresearch is being conducted on African-Americans. Preliminary findings suggestmany participants have lost an average of 30 lbs. during a 12-week treatmentperiod. The participants also report increased calm and more successful copingskills.
Community Health Highlights
Since 1995 our health workshops have been offered asstress management and rehabilitation in prison systems for men and women, andrecently work has begun with youth at risk. As indicated by reports fromprisoners, prison staff and independent psychological evaluation, the workshophas helped prisoners fight addiction, relieve emotional tension and improveoverall health. A sampling of quotes, verbatim, from a few of the prisoners:
"The psychologist recommended this course ... Ididn't think it would work ... but I needed the certificate for my paroleboard. I went in with a splitting migraine and within 15 minutes of using thetechnique it was gone! I felt less stress than I have felt in years."(Women's prison, USA)
"This stress management course is better thanany 'Anonymous' meeting I've ever attended. I can't really begin to tell youthe emotional and psychological feelings I'm having now, because I feel to benowhere and everywhere at once. The peace, serenity and exhilaration I havefrom doing the breathing exercises have me more euphoric than any drug I haveever taken. And I know that if I construct this in my daily life, I'll neveruse crack again." (Women's prison, USA)
"I'm going to be discharged from prison shortly.If I had not opted to go through the course, I would have gone into the worldoutside with a feeling of revenge on those who I thought were responsible formy present sorry state and humiliation in life. I would have continued with thefeeling of loneliness and isolation for the rest of my life. With the knowledgegiven by you, I'm no longer selfish, but self-centered. I will now create a newagenda for my self and continue the remaining journey in my life with joy andenthusiasm." (Men's prison, New Delhi, India)
Programs for Children (from age 10 to adult)
ART EXCEL. A different approach to education. In ourtechnologically advanced society, children have to cope with an overwhelmingrange of information and sensual stimuli. It is our responsibility to help thembecome integrated personalities that are able to meet the challenges of moderncivilization.
For this reason, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has designed aspecial program for children to help them grow into life without losing theirnatural qualities which basically are joy, love, creativity and trust. Itstrengthens their natural abilities in a very gentle and playful manner. Thedifferent parts of the programme consists of games, exercise, playful groupprocesses, little adventures in nature and phases of deep relaxation. They allcontribute to the increase of happiness and self confidence of the children anddeepen their sense of harmony and belongingness among themselves.
Side-effects are the improvement of concentration,memory and creativity as well as the development of their sense ofresponsibility. In this way children get a basic understanding of life andlearn how to handle the situations they may come across in gentle andconstructive manner.
This program has been so far carried out in India, Germanyand Poland.
This programme has been taught in eighty nations toover one million people. The programme can be practised self-reliantly and withconsistent results by individuals across a wide range of cultures andsocio-economics. Presented in a simple and clear manner, the knowledge offeredin The Art of Living Workshop is easily mastered by all. All techniques in theprogramme are without harmful side effects. The Health Initiative provides a viable means of bringing vitality andwholeness to global health care.
Thepotential for the Workshop’s success in meeting global health care challengesand bringing the level of human life to vigour and wholeness is unlimited. Indeed, thousands of people who have benefited fromour Workshops over the years have become our volunteers in 94 countries toimplement the key facets of the 5H programme viz. Hygiene(Sanitation), Homesfor the poor, and promotion of Harmony and Human Values in all communities andraces without distinction of creed and religion. Seemore details given in the CD ROM. (see file attached seva-habitat.p65 - this isa pagemaker 6.5 file, please unzip the file and then read. In case you have anyproblems - please revert)
Following our discussions in Geneva, the World Health Organisation hasevinced interest in this programme and has already involved us in consultativediscussions in the Health Policy for the New millennium - New Era, New Players.This development augurs well in achieving transferability on a truly globalscale. We do not envisage any difficulty in migrating this best practice farand wide without fear of language, raceor religious barriers.
* The Art of Living Workshops held during NGOConference on Women, Beijing, China September, 1995 and in Seoul, Korea,November 1999.
* Regular participation in WHO Consultation Meetingson Global Health Policy for the 21st Century.
* The Art of Living Workshop offered in Croatia withgreat success to people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
* Co-operation with state and regional governmentagencies in high and low security prison systems in Indiaand USA.
* Working with community agencies, i.e. FriendsIndeed, People with Aids Coalition, Gilda's Club, Outreach Inc.
* Working with smaller clinics such as CharlotteMaxwell Complementary Clinic for women with cancer, High Desert Medical Oncology Center, Center for StressReduction and Psychological Services.
* Relationships with the scientific community toconduct research for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
* Visiting guest lecturer programmes for education ofnurses, physical therapists, and psychotherapists.
* Academic support for graduate research on the HBTand various populations for doctoral dissertations.
* Results of scientific studies published in journalsand in Breathing Health - Reports of Health Improvements in IndividualsPractising the Healing Breath Technique, The Art of Living Foundation 1996,1997.