‘Life is a Celebration’ smiled Swami Gnantej. A young computer science engineer by education, he left his job at HCL technologies after a year to be a full time volunteer at the Art of Living center.
‘I attended the AOL courses while studying and they were good learning but when I met Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar, I felt that so comfortable. Like I had come home and I was taken care of…’ he explains his move from corporate world.
He says that ‘in the normal sense after a celebration, one tends to feel tired but after the joining Art of Living, he celebrates life and feels great every moment’ Swamiji shared stories of his early days at the ashram and the spiritual guidance by SriSri himself.
Swami Gnantej is in Jakarta to conduct workshops on ‘mindfulness, mantra and music.’ ‘Every individual should have knowledge about their mind. It is a skill to be learned, as most of us are either in the past or the future so we are never a 100 percent in the present. Simple methods can bring your mind to the present, he said.
A small technique he shared was to observe your breath. ‘Breath has a pattern, if you are angry, the breath pattern is fast, sadness is characterized by deep breathing and when you are happy, the breath is light.’ So with his guidance, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and observed as the breath filled me and then exhaled. The process of observation was very inward and intense leaving no room for any thoughts, just a warm feeling of being.
‘The flow of thoughts has different modulations. Many a time we might be physically present but our mind, which perceives, is wandering. The heart, however, is a seat of love where there is no perception or judgment. Spirituality is merely journey from the mind to the heart.’ He answered regarding the nature of spirituality.
When we meditate do we think or do we feel? ‘Neither, we just let go,’ he replied. ‘It is a common misconception, that meditation is focus. But meditation is to be in the nature of a se-er. Let the thoughts appear and let go. The highest form of prayer is meditation. It is a way to connect with our inner consciousness. Meditation is food for the soul.’
He pointed out an interesting aspect, ‘when we go to a temple and stand in front of the beautiful deity, adorned with flowers, we close your eyes. Why do we not feast our eyes on the deity instead? Gurudev says that it is because God is within, which is why we close our eyes to connect.’
‘The first phase of any puja is when we invoke the divinity within to be present in all the idols and symbols. So any puja is not complete without mediation – the connection to the self’ he elaborated. ‘Mantra and music are techniques to go deep within and gather ourselves back. Many a time we go for puja when we are disturbed. While in a prayer, the mantra chanting enables us to gather ourselves and be stronger to face the challenges.’
‘Mantras should be understood, learned and chanted with proper pronunciation, as in Sanskrit, a slight change can result is a totally different meaning. One can use simple mantras which are just as powerful’ were his concluding remarks.
It was indeed interesting and enlightening to be in conversation with Swami Ganantej. Look forward to his workshops in Jakarta. Music Mantra Meditation for Happiness Workshop
By Poonam Sagar