Arrive Alive Sunrise with Nico Pfitzenmaier

Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Kratik in
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In case you guys are wondering, I am not asking you to “arrive alive” with Nico Pfitzenmaier anywhere. I just thought of making my blog take an aberrant turn. As for “Arrive Alive Sunrise”, it is a famous non-alcoholic drink from South Africa, the thought of me having which is still arid.

Venerated, resolute, an exceptional cyclist, a regular at XTERRA European Championship, an art of living devotee and one of the most down to earth sportsmen that I have ever come across, Nico Pfitzenmaier spoke to almost a hundred youths and gave them a delightful time during the Art of Living YES!+ Summer Magic 2010 program at the International Centre of the Art of Living Foundation in Bangalore on June 30, 2010.

Although, the conversation with Nico turned out to be quite equivocal, it proved to be one which served to bolster the ideas of various youths present. Nico started his talk emphasizing nutrition as the key factor and was quick to realize the problems affecting the youths with respect to their eating habits. He being a vegetarian himself, talked about the need of eating fresh vegetables and preparing a diet which is free from sweets and chocolates, especially for ones, who are intransigent towards sweets. He was firm in his speech and said, “Stay away from bread and eat highly nutritive food because nutrition affects 70% of the body energy.” It was an inspiring message right down from probity from a sportsman, who even at the age of 39 was fit and competing at the highest level in world sport.

When asked about aggression and violent behavior, Nico said, “You can’t be aggressive in your appearance but being aggressive in the performance you put up is decent.”

Talking about his experience after the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique that energizes you, he said “After the Sudarshan Kriya, when I got on my bike, I felt absolutely fresh. I had to ride for eight days and it enabled me to cover a distance of 140 kms. If you can feel mentally and physically strong ever single day, it’s really awesome!”

According to the expert cyclist, “Kriya” has helped him to breathe through better and pump more air into his lungs which has helped him to improve his stamina. He went on to corroborate its influence by regarding the breathing technique as his inspiration and wants every sporting personality to undergo the practice.

Nico was quick to underline the importance of spirituality in the lives of sports personnel, who according to him would ameliorate from this knowledge. He reiterated saying, “Some of the players, especially football players, get overpaid but somewhere deep down they are still empty. They might be able to afford anything but they are not centered enough. Spirituality makes that happen.”

Well, the talk with Nico was another Summer Magic highlight and the one from which a bunch of people (including me) got a chance to learn a lot in terms of what it takes to compete at the highest level.

Summer Magic 2010

Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 by Kratik in
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I came to rejoice, I ended up getting knurled.

I came to enjoy, I ended up celebrating.

I came to rejuvenate, I ended up dancing with the world,

I came to smile, I ended up laughing with him I am writing.

My Guru, the master.

As the YES!+ song (Breathe) still reverberates beyond the ashram and in my room, it’s not the most difficult thing to visualize several moments of the ten day fun filled adventure called Summer Magic 2010. Though flashback might not be the correct word as it all seems to be in the so called “now”, it still is close enough to be appropriate. So, here it goes…

Awful exams, horrendous project demonstration and viva, agitated but lazy, also getting frustrated with my own self, all I knew was it was time!

Two advance courses done including Winter Break ’09, I thought I knew what was in store but I still “somehow” decided to give up on the World Cup for Ashram. Believe me, I’m glad I did it because it was so awesome, so different as to what I had thought it would be, it sure was magic in the summer of 2010. Convincing by parents, to filling up my YES!+ Advanced form, to packing by bags for Bangalore all happened in the span of a week. After five continuous days of watching football at Toons Sports Bar, it was a perfect build up for going to the Ashram.

June 20 morning, my smile erect, me buzzing with enthusiasm and overfilled with energy, I reached the Pune station where the teachers, Shashank and Ajinkya, along with the others were waiting.

This time there were several new faces, in fact I hardly knew ten from the eighty odd who were traveling. A combination of
satsangs, guru stories and hours of dumb sheraz made for a decent train journey.

Hours of traveling and we had reached Bangalore. A couple of hours away from the “heaven” on earth, I couldn’t stop smiling. An hour in the bus and….yes…I could see the International Centre of the Art of Living. As the bus entered the gate, I said in my heart, “I’m home Guruji!”

June 21

After we were allotted rooms, I met unexpectedly met my YES!+ teacher, Srividya Natarajan, at Kitchen. Oh mine! if that wasn’t cool, I called and expectedly met Satwik Mehta at the reception to round off a perfect start to my time in the Ashram.

Ashram food!.... It was amazing. It was soon evening and by then, there were almost a thousand youths in the Ashram already. Evening also meant, it was time for satsang. I knew he was to come and excitation grew with every moment passing by. I decided to meditate and soon there were people shouting like maniacs, I just knew he was here. When taking the last few breaths to come out of mediation, my smile grew bigger and bigger and as I opened my eyes, I saw him sitting on his singhasan and it felt as if I walking but still, shouting but silent, excited but calm.
It was just an awesome feeling, couldn’t stop looking at him, it was just magical. An awesome satsang in his presence was marked by him, H. H. Sri Sri Ravishankarji, Guruji making me experience bliss, joy, love and affection at the same time. A silent but long walk back to my room (Chinese Dorm) with a feeling of absolute bliss made me feel in a world to which I’m was an alien.

June 22

Next morning it was quarter to 4 and I was up only to realize that there were more than a dozen people waiting to let go, lol. I waited in the queue telling myself, “Mera number aayega.” 45 minutes of wait and I had finally got the green card. Several minutes later, with a bright smile again I was at peace with myself and sure it felt good. As I came out, I saw a longer queue for taking bath. Believe me, that was that! I said, “Jai Gurudeva” and walked out in despair into my room. Soon, Satwik was back from his shower. I had decided I ain’t bathing here, even Vishala seemed like a decent option. So, I walked with Satwik…from Chinese Dorm to the Vishala Bathroom, oh! and yes, it wasn’t as full…I was only the fourth one in the queue! I was on time and it was awesome to feel so fresh. Wonderful sadhna followed by breakfast, masti, lunch, story writing, masti, dinner, masti and satsang was so much fun. Satwik and I both felt sheer gratitude for Guruji. We also prayed to him to somehow change our rooms. Though we knew it wasn’t possible but we still went to the housing in anticipation. Guess what, we got Buddha!

Only one person was allowed to enter the housing and Satwik, the man was “The man”, who went in and spoke and even I don’t know how we got Buddha. Though it was sixteen sharing instead of eight but it still felt a lot better. Ironic I know but we were jumping at 9:30 PM as though we had won gold medals at the Olympics.

Leaving our luggage at Chinese Dorm, we went and slept at Buddha.

June 23

Next day again, I got up at 3:45 AM and got ready. A nature walk at five to the Chinese Dorm to change my clothes was “extra” warm up but it was fun, I did that with a smile. 6:01 AM in my watch and there I was, at Yagyashala. When I reached Yagyashala, there was buzz around the entire auditorium for the second upgrade. Alien to even the theme, I loved the dilemma and the excitement of the moment. Long Kriya followed by Padma Sadhna energized me more than ever and made me feel enliven. Even the thought of nerve-wrecking challenges gave me butterflies in my stomach but I felt gratitude towards Guruji for making me be a part of this enthralling venture called Summer Magic 2010. With a smile we ran and sat and the groups were formed. My will to be away from my Pune group in order to cross my own boundaries made me not join them, most of whom ran together and then sat together. But it felt good. The theme for the upgrade was countries involving clues, Q/A, quizzes and tasks about the countries, respectively. The upgrade involved 60 groups which were given one country each. Completing a country made the groups move from one nation to the other. It also gave three flags which were necessary to determine the outcome. We were group number 4, with a group leader who was Idiot number 4. We were also a group with no coordination. I had lost the count to the number of times I said “shut up!” to my ego. Our country was England and the questions on football. My thing?....NoT! as I wasn’t informed, underline the no coordination. Couple of songs by The Beatles…and they gave up on the challenge. Look, I’m not saying I would have pulled it off single handedly (maybe I would have) but they could have kept me informed. Time to say shut up (again) to my ego. One challenge given up, probably the one that had my name written all over it but never the less Italy next. It all went fine, we completed Italy. Next was China, I remembered Bawa laughing with Priyamani over China and here we were doing China. First task, collection of centipedes! Am I not scared of them, sure I am! I made that clear at first itself. At times its good to look like a scary pooh and not be a hero when you can pee even looking at something. Somehow, from somewhere we got the centipedes and after a couple of more tasks even China was done. With each group pushing hard to win, the nail biting encounters continued with each group giving their 100%. It made for an extremely close contest. Tired but pumping with adrenalin, we returned to VM for a session with Dinesh Bhaiya. He had invited someone from the Yuva magazine to come and speak. The man started well. We were all buzzing with energy and the moment he said, “Our magazine has successfully completed one year”, everyone in VM went “PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!” It was a crazy moment but PARTY became the anthem of Summer Magic 2010. No matter who starts boosting about themselves, everyone would go shouting “PARTY!” We all sure were having a party.

Soon, we had guest lectures from Rajesh Krishnamurthy who made us aware about the six degrees of separation. Then, Dr. Hari and his wife were greeted to the stage with a bundle of applause. Dr. Hari spoke extremely well regarding the ancient history, om and his researches.

We also had the APEX team speaking to us about the Sri Sri University in Assam, Orissa. The university looked a part of the heaven that we were already on, it was so absorbing and beautiful. It also offered a post graduate course in Broadcast Journalism, me interested….oh yes!

Soon a couple of meditations and it was time for Satsang with Guruji which turned out to be a divine experience again. I meditated and moved with the beats, loved it!

As the satsang ended, it was time for a musical called Anand and Benaifer. Anand and Benaifer was a comic love story between a Parsi girl named Benaifer Soda water bottle Openerwala and a South Indian boy named Anand . It was directed by Priyamani and Sidhika, quite superbly done! The highlight of it was that whether it was singing, speaking or dancing, everything was live and nothing pre-recorded. The musical had two parts to be performed on two separate days. The first part was performed after the satsang on the 23rd. The first part of the play was rounded off by a YES!+ song that took 2000 breaths away (including mine). I remember, when I went back to my room in Buddha, I was still singing that song….Breathe, Breathe YES!+….The magic of YES!+

June 24

The day had arrived, it was the start of the advance course. Chirag Aggrawal started the day with dance yoga teaching us to dance on the “Zoobi Doobi” song from the movie 3 idiots. Dance followed by Surya Namaskar and then, Sadhna filled me with joy. Breakfast and then seva at the VM was quite immaculate.

Dinesh Bhaiya’s session started and we were called into action with the fantastic Dr.Giri teaching us the ways by which attack can be used as the best form of defense. Our own Gauri didi and Dinesh Bhaiya got on the stage to demonstrate Dr. Giri’s art.

It was a perfect exhibition of what seemed to be a need for every youth in the society. What followed was even better, the CEO EDUCORP made us clear about social entrepreneurship. He also gave us an insight to EDUCORP and what is their company doing for the society in terms of providing education.

Another special guest invited by Dinesh Bhaiya was Amol Bhaiya, a man who was working in the villages. He was a man who touched my heart and spoke in such a way that hundreds (including me) sitting in Vishalakshi Mantap(VM) wanted to do something for the people in the villages. It was extraordinary to see a healing wave of seva spread with that force only by the words of a man. I even now, feel like planting trees and doing my bit to make this place a better place to live in.

Later, Jigeesh Bhaiya joked, sang and danced with us. He also shared his guru story and experience about silence and what he did while going into moan.

The surprises continued and this time, it was my own teacher (Srivi ma’am) along with Priyamani on the VM stage with both the girls dressed in traditional South Indian outfits. I, sitting with the Pune group, was puzzled and thought to myself, now what? Srivi mam caught the microphone and everyone in VM greeted her with applause. Soon, I was doing what I never thought I would ever do….dancing Bharatnatyam! But let me tell you, it was so much fun. In fact, more fun than sitting on a platter to gossip and rubbish around about a traditional dance that holds a vital position in the forte of Indian heritage.

Soon, it was time for a nature walk and we were off, walking through trees, feeling the winds, dancing with the dropping dew and sitting next to the lake. It was time satsang and this time I danced like no other in divine’s presence. As soon as the satsang got over, it was time for Anand and Benaifer Part 2 and guess what, this time Guruji was also here to watch the musical. The musical this time brought with itself even more energy, possible due to Guruji’s presence. From the moment it started to the time it ended, the atmosphere was mind blowing. The YES!+ dance was scintillating, the crowd was dancing with the dancers on the stage. How on earth can anyone forget that amazing moon salt by Chiraj to give Guruji the flower, it was simply stunning. The play was funny, action packed, romantic, full of music, in short, perfect!

Well done Sidhika, Priyamani and everyone associated with the play including the Dakoos, the Pirates, every single person…you guys rocked!

As once Mandy told me…Bawa is a perfectionist…all I can say is Vindicated!

At last it was so cute to see Dinesh Bhaiya and Bawa doing a couple of steps of the YES!+ song.

It was a perfect start to the advanced course.

June 25

I was at the Yagyashala before six and guess who made his entry at dot 6 AM, Dinesh Bhiaya. I knew what was in store and yes, I was correct.

Believe me, I have never done Surya Namaskar that slowly. We did some Asanas in Ujjai breath also but it was a great start to the day. After sadhna, I felt overjoyed. The conventional advance course processes started after breakfast and by evening we were all ready for silence. The silence commenced as the satsang with Guruji terminated and I prayed to Guruji, “Guruji no girls this time, I want to concentrate only on being silent.”

Silence

June 26-28

June 26

I was up early again and it felt extremely good as I was maintaining silence. It was only five and I had reached Yagyashala, where I had a pleasant sleep for an hour after which the yoga started. After an impeccable morning sadhna, seva and breakfast, we were pulled into meditation by a series of vintage advance course processes which continued on either side of lunch. Soon, it was time for satsang with Guruji. The satsang was again awesome and looking down I walked back to my room, Buddha 4.

June 27

3:45 AM and I was up again! I reached Yagyashala early and had a nap once more. I guess I was in sleep when I suddenly started to hear “OM sounds” and that too plenty of them. I suddenly got up and realized that it was 6 AM and Dinesh Bhaiya was here. Jumping, shaking, warming up exercise, surya namaskar and sadhana gave me a perfect start to the day. Breakfast was followed by a super strong talk by Captain Raghu Raman, who inspired us to stand up for the country in order to be counted. He also carved in each one of us a relentless spirit that he as a jawan held during his time with the army. Capt. Raman also did his bit to make us aware about the problems faced by the jawans fighting on the Siachen Glacier and the need there exists to rectify each problem whether it would be related to their pay or what the pressures that they have to undergo during their time at the glacier. There were smiles, tears and a number of staring future jawans willing to let the Indian flag fly high. Sadhana, seva and satsang did wonders for me on the second day of silence which resulted in me having a day during which I maintained “perfect silence.”

June 28

Early mornting and Dinesh Bhaiya was at Yagyashala again. After an advance course process we came out of silence. The silence was awesome, probably better than ever. I walked looking down and hardly spoke. I wanted to be in silence more but it was good to be out of it as well. The date June 28, 2010 that meant my mother’s birthday.

The first thing that I did was wish the most special women in my life ever at 6:30 AM. It was great to wish her Happy Birthday, hear her voice.

Shortly after, the Rudrapooja in Guruji’s presence started. Pooja was like a breath of fresh air that drove me into meditation almost automatically. Rudrapooja was followed by breakfast and Guruji’s meet.

His meet was magical, if magical is not an understatement. I remember, when Guruji was coming towards me, I expected nothing at all. All I had for him was gratitude for all that he had given me. He came to me, stopped, smiled as asked me, “Are you happy?”…. I was blank! He again asked me, “Are you happy? “ and I not in my senses, said, “Pakka Guruji.” He smiled and went ahead, it was then that I realized that today is also my Mummi’s birthday. So I asked him to bless my mother and he again smiled…I was lost again! He then, blessed and I have been smiling since.

Lunch was followed by people celebrating like crazy. I guess they were overwhelmingly happy to come out of silence. I on the other hand, wished to remain numb. Plenty of hugs and everyone around expressing their joy, it wasn’t the worst feeling on the planet. Moments after we had assembled in the VM, we had the most amazing seven minutes, ever! They were seven extremely precious minutes with Mr. Yezdi Batliwala, the chairman of VVKI (Vyakti Vikas Kendra, India) who is also Bawa’s father. Mr. Batliwala spoke in a strong manner and introduced the concept of microfinance to everyone around. His straight forward approach and his terrific sense of humor caught everyone’s eye and turned out to be the highlight of his seven minute delightful cameo talk.

After an array of performances, if anyone still doubted the talent of the Summer Magic participants in Ashram, they were proven further wrong. Bhargavi along with a summer magic participant stunned more than a thousand, singing the songs that were given to the pair in reverse fashion which left me (at least) jaw dropping!

It was soon Bawa time! Bawa got his fingers on the piano and played a scintillating mixture of rhythm and melody that in itself demanded a standing ovation from the crowd.

Look, I knew Bawa was a concert level piano player but it was as though his fingers were casting a spell for the instrument to play. It was just astonishing watching and listening to him play! He was simply superb. Next was probably the most famous show of talent and skill that people would talk for years to come. Bawa called Chirag on stage to perform with him and the two of them literally stole the show. Chirag danced to Bawa’s piano rhythm and this time it wasn’t only me, everyone else as well were left jaw dropping.

It was another splendid exhibition of expert artistry by the man I started to believe was the perfectionist, Mr. Khurshed Batliwala.

I had that wide, glowing, internally happy smile and believe me it felt so good to be in that atmosphere. We continued to have more fun in the VM with Dinesh bhaiya and Bawa and later, went for dinner. It was a super cool session.

Satsang was full of life and great energy. This time around, along with Guruji, Mrs Indu Jain (The Times Group chairman), Dr. P C Reddy (Chairman of Apollo Hospitals) and his family were present at the satsang. They unveiled their heart campaign and pledged to defeat heart disease with smile and yoga. The satsang ended and I down with cold, headed back to my room to sleep. Everyone in the room was in a mood for discussion and so, they started off with their own philosophies, going back to what Swami Vivekananda said, further back to the epic Ramayana to the movie Ravan starring Abhishek Bhachan, to everything on planet earth possible! The talks continued and it was close to mid night when Satwik suddenly heard Bawa talking and walking past Buddha. One voice we had heard and that was the end of talks! Our hearts in our mouths, before midnight we went off to bed.

June 29

Up and ready at 5:30 for sadhana again, unlike my room mates who wouldn’t wake up, I reached Yagyashala after doing some “time-pass”. While walking, I thought to myself, “No more drama left, it’s been a wonderful course, what more can they add?” Yagyashala on this occasion had a lower turn out as compared to the other days and Virat Bhaiya was as usual, brilliant taking the kriya again. After breakfast, I and Satwik took appointment for three people for Guruji’s Darshan and headed to VM for the session.

Before the main session, the summer magic photographs were clicked with more than a thousand people sitting, standing or posing at different parts of the VM. The main session started with Rashmin bhaiya speaking on how NOT to give introductory talks. He also shared his experiences of intro talks and his courses, both in India and in Norway. Dinesh Bhaiya had invited a Yoga Specialist, Ghanashyam, who demonstrated different asanas, leaving me blown away. I was startled to see him do surya namaskar. He did those twelve asanas like I haven’t seen them done, ever. It was like a slap on the face that one must get time and time again, especially, when he has turned into a lazy bum. Just watching Ghanashyam, in itself it acted as a source of serious inspiration and enabled me to give more than what I usually did.

Remember the second upgrade…?...uuh.yes!...what about the results?...yes, it was upgrade result time!

Though, results were the last thing on my mind and even though I had kept on complaining about there being “no coordination”, but I, like any other participant, obviously wanted to win. Shouting on the top of my voice, “Group number 4!” whenever Bawa would call out the number of the group that had finished as the runner-up or won the upgrade, was great fun. Though we didn’t win but it certainly was worth an experience. I soon met people from my group and guess what, I joked around with them. I then realized, they all weren’t as irritating as I once thought they were, though some of them still held on to their unprecedented reputation! But it turned out to be fun. Minutes later, lunch was taken. Post lunch session was used to give away wonderfully designed T-shirts, bags and bookmarks as a Summer Magic 2010 memento.

I looked at my watch, it was 4 PM which meant, it was time for Guruji’s Darshan and guess what, I and Satwik had taken entry for three. So, I asked my childhood friend, Aarushi Goyal (who also got me into the world of the Art of Living) to join us. We were super excited and overjoyed. We sprinted down the VM stairs and into the darshan queue to enter the Badri Vishala. We were so excited that we were smiling, laughing and screaming to ourselves in excitation saying, “YES!!!” It was just a very crazy moment and the overall feeling of realizing that we are going to meet Guruji was even crazier. I for once felt that if I jump now, I’d touch the sky!

After an hour of wait, we finally met Guruji and the meet was special again. Just seeing him was an experience in its own and it’s so different when he looks into your eyes, that’s the drug that you need to heal all the negative emotions that ever existed.

Another pleasant surprise, though I didn’t speak, Guruji still heard me! The satsang that evening in Guruji’s presence took place at the Vishalakshi Mantap. The satsang at the VM had a different energy all together and it also showered highest degree of bliss that I felt throughout the Ashram trip. The sleep was pleasing as well.

June 30

Satwik left for Pune at 6 in the morning. On the other hand, my sleep was so pleasing that I woke up at 7 in the morning. My plans of a nature walk at 6 AM went right down the gutter. I remember, I saw the watch, it said 7 AM and I jumped off my bed like a ninja only to look around and see people were still sleeping away to glory. 15 minutes and I was ready. I patted myself on the back, said, “Job well-done mate!” It felt great and I was smiling as though I had scored from 36 yards in the dying moments of the world cup final. I walked quicker than ever and finally reached the lake. I went and sat right at the corner, walking through the pathway. I closed my eyes and felt the winds, it was as though I was flying! I also meditated for sometime, it was a different feeling, I felt silence. It was better than meditating on marine drive. For the remaining time that I was at the lake, I just sat and felt the nature glow. It was so magical. It was me, the nature and the divine.

After having breakfast at the canteen, it was Bakra time! I had met this guy from indore named Rohit Raghuvanshi, who from no angle looked like an Indian. He also was a brilliant actor. We started off with this girl, standing in the canteen queue. To the girl, I said , “This boy named Edward (Rohit) is an Australian and wants to know how to say his name in Hindi. Inspite of all our efforts, we haven’t been able to teach him, can you please help?” The girl gave her best shot in making Edward (Rohit) say, “Mera naam Edward hai.” She spelt the individual words, told Edward (Rohit) which letters the word contained, tried every single trick in the book. It took her five minutes and she did a decent job. After Edward (Rohit) in FAKE Australian accent said, “Mera naam Edward hai.” He asks the girl, “Have you been to Australia?” The girl replies, “No” and then Edward (Rohit) says, “KABHI AAYO GHUMA DOONGA.” The girl went crazy but it was a perfect bakra! We made a lot of people bakras…and it was fun, without a doubt…..If any of you have become Bakras and if I was involved….apologies!

Later, I with a bunch of friends went to the city where we had lunch. We reached the Ashram and it was time for satsang, which was at the VM again. This time Guruji didn’t speak a word but the satsang was incredible. We soon went off to sleep and it was a wonderful day.

July 1

It was my last day in the Ashram. I woke up with mixed feelings. On one hand I was sad to leave the Ashram but on the other, grateful to Guruji that he had given me some unforgettable moments this time around. I walked a lot and saw almost the entire Ashram. It was really cool. I took back with me teachings and a bundle of memories about which I’m writing now. YES!+ Summer Magic 2010 has been a learning curve, not only in terms of inner silence and centeredness but also in terms of art. From dancing to Zoobi Doobi and the YES!+ song with Chirag to doing Bharatnatyam with Srivi ma’am and Priyamani to learning Dr. Giri’s art to experiencing so many different emotions during various guest lectures, I feel grateful to Guruji for making me a part of this extraordinary venture.

A special thanks to Satwik, Aarushi, Srivi ma’am, Himanshu, Ajinkya, Shashank, Mandy, Mihir Joshi, Saiyam, Aditi,Rutuja, Aniket, Jayashree and everyone else for making my trip a perfect one.

Jai Gurudeva J

Love

Kratik


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