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.

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