Iraqis train on Art of Living to spread peace | india | Hindustan Times
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Iraqis train on Art of Living to spread peace

A team of 43 Iraqis is on a sabbatical at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's hermitage in Bangalore for the cause.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 14:53 IST

A team of 43 Iraqis is on a 40-day sabbatical at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's hermitage here to learn the Art of Living techniques and spread the message of peace and stress-free living in their war-torn country.

Instructors at the Art of Living Foundation, established by the spiritual guru in 1982, are holding lessons for the Iraqis on spirituality, yoga, breathing and how to lead a tranquil life even under difficult circumstances.

At the same time, the foundation, which has two centres in Baghdad, is spreading its wings to other Iraqi cities such as Najaf, Basra, Al-Salmaniya and Karbala to help the citizens overcome trauma, volunteers at the foundation said.

"We want to bring back the smile on the face of the average Iraqi," said Mawahib Al-Shaibani, an Art of Living instructor who was previously a merchant banker with Merrill Lynch in Geneva and the Wall Street in New York City.

"This team is influential and includes politicians, engineers, doctors, lawyers and even a kick-boxing coach who wants to come back with a team of youths," UAE-born Al-Shaibani, who is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, told IANS.

"Our belief is that in this fight against terrorism, even if one pocket is left out, the world will continue to be a dangerous place," she added.

The visit of the Iraqi team to the Art of Living Foundation - which says it has over 20 million followers in 146 countries - coincides with another by a group of Israelis.

According to Maryam Al-Rayes, a leading lawyer in Baghdad and a former member of the Iraqi parliament, she sees so much disenchantment and unhappiness in Iraq that she wants to become a facilitator of the healing process.

"The basic task before us is to empower the Iraqi people and that cannot be possible unless we remove the stress and pain from their hearts and minds," said Al-Rayes, who was a part of the committee that framed the new constitution.

Hussain Al-Musawy, chief of the Iraqi Republican Party and head of the Political Shia Council, echoed similar sentiments.

He said he had been in Bangalore for as many as 40 days despite a busy schedule back home in Baghdad.

"If we spread the art of living in Iraq - which we are ourselves learning from experts here - I am sure we can bring a sea change in the lives of our fellow citizens, which they desperately require," Al-Musawy said.

Their training programme also includes the Sudarshan Kriya, patented by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and highlighted by a rhythmic breathing process to eliminate toxins, restore energy, enhance concentration and inflict wellness in individuals.

According to Art of Living volunteers here, the foundation's link with Iraq was established in September 2003, months after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, when a team of Art of Living instructors led by Al-Shaibani set foot on Baghdad.

They set up trauma relief camps and ayurvedic medical camps in various parts of Iraq, especially Baghdad and Balad, and also taught stress relieving techniques.