Art of Living Foundation

Art of Living Foundation

August 28, 2007 07:00 ET

Art of Living Foundation: Iraq Sends Youth to India for Peace Training

Art of Living turns Arabs into peace angels

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Aug. 28, 2007) - The first of its kind initiative is a collaborative effort between the Art of Living Foundation and the Iraqi government and is aimed at training the youth to combat violence in non- violent ways. This joint initiative comes as a follow-up to a proposal made by Iraqi federal minister for sports and youth, Jasim Mohammed Jafar, in May 2007 during the visit of the Art of Living Foundation's founder, H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Iraq.

"It feels like breathing out all the stress of war and breathing in a new life." This was how 32-year-old Iraqi Ahmed Hinoon describes his experience of the ongoing training programme at the Art of Living International Centre in Bangalore, India. "I felt really relaxed after doing the breathing exercises."

Hinoon is one of the 55 Iraqi youth sent by the Government of Iraq for a month-long spiritual training conducted by the Art of Living Foundation.

The training, which will conclude on September 9, 2007, will see the youth undergo some of the Art of Living's intensive programmes such as the acclaimed Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP). Some of them will be trained to become Art of Living instructors. They will be equipped to conduct trauma relief programmes and promote techniques that facilitate physical, mental, emotional and social well-being in the people of the war-ravaged country. The youth come from all parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan, Baghdad, Basra, Suleimania, Karbala and Najaf.

"This programme has changed my life. After so many years, I am able to control my mind. I am now ready to face the challenges of life. With so many problems of endless killings, bombs and war, life in Iraq is very stressful. With no electricity and water supply, we have no hope. After coming here, we see a new ray of hope," says Hinoon.

"We will go back and spread the knowledge of Art of Living in Iraq. The people of Iraq badly need this. They are undergoing a lot of mental and emotional tensions. Everybody is harbouring revenge in his or her mind. Only Art of Living can help change people's mind," said Ali Abdulhur Humady.

"Iraqis are in a Catch 22 situation. In any long-drawn conflict, the victim tends to turn an oppressor and the oppressor becomes a victim. A border vision and spiritual understanding alone can break this vicious cycle," says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explaining the importance of the training programme.

"During my visit to Iraq in May 2007, Iraqi leaders agreed that what is most needed in the world today is non-violence and reconciliation. This can only happen when the mind is relieved of stress and emotions are softened and refined. This state cannot be achieved by force or violence. Only through meditation and breathing techniques, we can attain this as it has been demonstrated around the world."

"We are grateful to Sri Sri. He is very wise and has a lot of knowledge. And he stands for peace, which is very important for Iraq," Ramia.

Since September 2003, the Art of Living has been working under trying circumstances to help the Iraqi people overcome the deep pain and suffering inflicted by the long-drawn warfare. Moved by the effective intervention of the Art of Living, several Iraqis have earlier completed special trainings to impart the Art of Living techniques to the Iraqi people. So far, 5,000 Iraqis from Baghdad, Basra, Suleimania and Karbala have undergone the Art of Living workshops.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be in Toronto, September 20- 23, 2007, and will lead 4 public event sessions on the ancient science of the breath.

Pictures of Iraqi youth peace training available upon request.

Interview with H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in September can be request.

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