Yoga, meditation draws South Americans to AOL

Interview with Raúl Alvarez from Paraguay and Pamela Vicentin from Argentina at Art of Living ashram in Kanakapura Road

Raúl Alvarez is an entrepreneur from Paraguay, a small and beautiful country in South America.

“While in India, I came to learn that we are not only matter, we are made up of energy (prana). It is through Ayurveda that I have learnt to take good care of my body. I’ve learnt that through meditation and yoga, one can master the mind and body. I have come to know that life is not about having more but about sharing.”

How did your journey to India begin?

My journey started when my mother signed up my brothers and me for Taekwondo classes. After many years of this martial art practice, I started meditating. Our Taekwando Master used to guide us into mediation for deep and quick rest after long, intense practice sessions.

I used to be a very active teenager, working in big local companies as an intern, only for the sake of learning, was a part of the national Taekwando team, volunteered for Catholic service groups and studied electronics in High School. I had a lot of energy but felt that depth was lacking in these activities.

In January of 2010, I attended a Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES Plus) in Asuncion, where I experienced Sudharshan Kriya for the first time, the breathing technique that touched the deepest depths of my soul and woke me up to the purpose of my life, to share with the world all that I have learnt and experienced.

I have experienced many places with my family but I never expected to come to India with my younger brother for year back in 2013, in a quest to know more about spirituality, to know more about the Art of Living and to spend time in the company of wise people, especially my spiritual guide Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, when I met him for the first time in the US in 2010.

What are your impressions of India?

India is an ocean of mysteries, ancient traditions, a forest of colours and a peaceful jungle of contrasts. This beautiful country, its vibrant culture opened doors to a completely different view of the world and life for me.

While in India, I came to learn that we are not only matter, we are made up of energy (prana). It is through Ayurveda that I have learnt to take good care of my body. I’ve learnt that through meditation and yoga, one can master the mind and body. I have come to know that life is not about having more but about sharing.

After meeting kids who predict events, astrolgers who can read your past and foresee your future, after witnessing that my life was written in a palm leaf more than 2000 years ago, after knowing that there are sages and masters alive who are willing to share ancient secrets to sincere seekers the world wasn’t the same for me. Life became a celebration once I found the Master, who has been constantly guiding me in this ocean of information and experiences. I could have learnt fighting skills as a kid and could have become a national champion with proper training and knowledge under the guidance of my Taekwando Master. I feel guided by my spiritual Master in the same way, in this universe filled with infinite possibilities.

This is my fifth visit to India. After my first year of volunteering work here, I have realised I had to go back to my roots, work on my dreams of having my own consulting company, manage a franchise of an international company, more to an apartment, buy a second hand car, travel to new countries, maintain a good relationship with inspiring people, learn from priests and test all that I have learnt.

I can’t look back in life without realising the huge transformation that I have experienced. The Art of Living has been the best platform for me for everything that I have dreamed of. Be it having a family in any country that I have visited, to having the honour of attending event like the World Leadership Forum, the World Cultural Festival along with 3.75 million people, being part of the organisation of the World Youth Leadershp Form and the International Women’s Conference. Having assisted in organising courses and workshops on meditation, yoga, and leadership in some countries, I truly feel that I am fulfilling my purpose of serving society.

I never thought that my life would take such a big turn after visiting this country that I now call ‘home’ India.

India is now spiritual home and the Art of Living International Centre is my favourite place to find peace and knowledge. It’s the place from where I get my inspiration, where I recharge myself to more ahead towards my life goals, sharing with and inspiring people to live a happy life, to live in peace, and to take action to create a better world.

I urge the youth to meditate, travel and come back to India, look forward to new experiences, make yourself inspiring to others, find peace, and make this world a better place, taking the best from other cultures and traditions.

Pamela Vincentin, Argentina

“While youngsters in India look up to people abroad, people out there are taking to yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, all of which comes from India” – Pamela Vincentin

What brought you to India?

I always had the curiosity to travel to the other side of the world and see how India really is. I used to imagine India as an exotic land with notions like ‘India is so rich and full of colours.’

The curiosity became a dream come true when I did the Art of Living course in my small hometown called Venado Tuerto, Argentina. The course brought me a deep sense of relief as I started to meditate and do yoga regularly and started to gravitate towards Gurudev’s teachings and Vedic knowledge. All this intensified my longing to come to India to meet Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar and experience the culture first hand.

Pamela Vincentin with Sri Sri Ravishankar at AOL, Bangalore

It was February 2014 when I first came to India. I enrolled for advanced meditation programs here but stayed back for service at the ashram for a few months after the course completion. These few months became four amazing years in no time.

From the beginning, I felt a deep connection with India. Once Gurudev sent a few of us for social service in villages. We were supposed to teach pranayama, conduct satsangs and celebrate with the people. While at service, I came to understand that in India most of the youth wish to go abroad, as they idolise Western culture, this was a little surprising.

Indian culture has everything to be proud of. India is so vibrant; I felt this the very first time I landed here. Indians are very calm, composed and spiritual compared to western people. I have come to notice Indians are happy in general, very devotional, a lot less inclined toward alchohol, drugs, a lot less depression cases,marriages are more stable, families are cohesive and caring. Human values are quite established in people.

The deepest wisdom can help people overcome stress and misery; it all comes from this land of the Vedas and rishis that have given the gift of ancient wisdom to humanity. I often share my views with youngsters tell them their culture is so amazing, we must appreciate it and work towards reviving it. While these youngsters look up to people abroad, people out there are taking to yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, all of which comes from India.

How is life at the ashram?

Life is literally heaven on earth in the ashram, even though we all keep busy with our seva activities, everyone is really happy. There’s an air of positivity here with so many people meditating regularly and with the presence of the Master, each day becomes a celebration. There are times when there are people from countries across the globe and India, packing the ashram to capacity. While there are times when a lot less faces are around making it an atmosphere of silence and peace. Having experienced the purity of the ashram, one doesn’t wish to leave.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar travels across India and around the world, reviving Indian culture, sharing it in very simple ways to make use of this knowledge to help people eradicate violence, depression, stress and has brought the smile back on people’s faces. A lot of transformation has happened in the lives of people world over and I happen to be one of them.

Gurudev has helped millions like me through Sudarshana Kriya and meditations to open other dimensions of life, where we experience happiness and bliss from within, with a feeling to share this knowledge with the world through service and celebration. My eternal gratitude. 9