concerning Art of Living here are some quotes from various sources.
The FACT Net correspondant wrote:
'Hi, Ravi Shankar and the art of living foundation operate mainly in north-west europe, and India (with hq based in Bangalore). They are especially big in Holland, Germany and Denmark with ashrams and such. I have heard a lot about this organization from former martial arts training buddies, who got sucked into the organization via weekend courses that focused on health (standard breathing exercises, vegetarian diet, gentle yoga, meditation etc) and was then introduced to the philosophy and lifestyle of art of living. As you can see on their websites they offer standard ancient-wisdom-of-india stuff. They are also involved in 'charity' projects such as teaching meditation to inmates and social rehabilitation programmes for adolescents.
'In India they have built some hospitals, i don't know whether these are free or not. Ravi Shankar himself did his 'guru training' at the feet of TM Maharishi, who apparantly saw R.S as some kind of wunderkind. Apparantly he is still one: i have personally heard R.S describe himself as 'a child' (in response to an audience question - "Why are you not married and have children?" - at a R.S lecture I attended) even though he is in his fifties. This "I am a child" also explains R.S's tendency not to take audience questions seriously, mock rational people aswell his own erratic behaviour.
'Beacause he is so spontaneous and 'in tune' with the cosmic forces he is not responsible for his personal conduct, say, something as simple as keeing an appointment. Disciples/organizers of R.S events never know if he will actually show up when and where agreed upon. It is costumary that the inner circle of devotes along with current vip's such as rich and influential people and journalists must attend a private meeting with R.S after an event ( to show that they really are proper devotees) so they have to hang in mid air waiting hand and foot on the master, indulging his every whim.
'So here is a fifty some year old man who behaves like - and believes himself to be - an erratic/"spontaneous" little boy and yet his devotees literally prostrate themselves on the ground before him and believe him to be a spiritual father, an incarnation of God. Go figure.
'I barely recognize my former buddies after their involvement with this organization, the transformation is complete inside and out.
I know people that have lived in their ashrams for several years and left for what they consider very good reasons. They got fed up with social isolation, peer pressure and powerstruggles in the ashram hierachy. Not to mention the impossibility of living up to a spiritual ideal of being constantly happy, always good and unconditionally loving, and, off course, divinely pure as defined by and measured against R.S himself.
Art of living people come on heavy with a manically beaming happy chappy attitude and evangelizes in a way that would make even a supercharged pentecostal preacher nod in approval. It can be highly seductive and contagious. However the smug arrogance of the righteous is never far off.
'About a year ago I met a few of them and they asked me if I was coming to a Ravi Shankar event and i replied no.
"you are just not ready yet" they replied.
"what do you think it would take for me to be ready then?" I asked, keeping the tone light, and one of them looked me up and down and said
"a few more incarnations"
It was a small incident but it crystallized the sum of my impressions of the art of living perfectly.
Hope this was any good to you in your queries.
Best wishes from Denmark. (end of quote from Factnet correspondant)
This next citation from an article describes Mr. Allan Salkin's experience and also gives a lot of background info.
Interestingly, Mr Salkin developed what he called a hammering headache [i:4db06e1367]and was told he was purging toxins--which sounds very similar to stories told by TM veterans[/i:4db06e1367]
(Mr Salkin's account:) 'The kriya requires breathing in and out through your nose in circular breaths without pausing in between the inhalation and the exhalation. During the retreat, this lasts about 25 minutes and is done in time with the tape of Shankar. The at-home instructions are to start with 20 long and slow in-out breaths, followed by 40 medium-length breaths and 40 small, fast ones.This 20-40-40 is done three times and lasts a total of seven to nine minutes. After that, you let the breath do what it wants for one minute and then finish with five long, slow "so-hums." We were told to allow our thoughts and emotions to flow, to deny nothing. After about 25 minutes, the breathing over, we were told to lie on our backs and then our right sides—which felt excellent. What descended then was the quiet empty space that meditation can bring. It was nice. Calm.
*But that night at home, I developed a hammering headache. We'd been told to avoid medicines if possible, so I resisted pills.
'The headache lasted into the next day's class. DiSilverio said my condition
was probably the result of my body purging toxins. Still, after the final
class, I'd had enough detoxing and blissfully swallowed an ibuprofen, which brought relief.
'I felt cleansed and clearheaded for days afterward, and most of the other
students said they felt quite peaceful at the end. [i:4db06e1367]Some of them had endured stomach problems, and a few others had headaches. [/i:4db06e1367]That might just have been caffeine withdrawal, but I left feeling that daily practice of the Kriya would probably be a good thing to do. According to DiSilverio, Shankar says you can't really see the profound benefits of the practice until you do it for six months. What put me off the most about the idea of doing it every day was the time commitment of it. For me, a busy New Yorker, it seemed like too much to do.
The rest of Mr. Salkin's article can be read here:
Now, bearing in mind that Mr. Salkin says he and some participants reported headaches and that others 'endured stomach problems', lets look at the list of complaints triggered by serotonin elevation brought about by practicing Transcendental Meditation.
We need to get more information from Art of Living participants and rule out whether caffiene withdrawal or allergies from a novel environment could produce these same symptoms. Meanwhile, prospective participants should proceed with caution--its worrisome when people are advised to ignore physical symptoms, instead of stopping the meditation practice to see if this brings some relief, then resuming the practice more gently, making sure to stop or slow down if syptoms return.
Side Effects of Transcendental Meditation--reported from an article on Trancenet.org
Muscle twitches and convulsions
Stomach and bowel complaints*
Insomnia and other sleep disorders
Inability to focus -- feeling "spacey"
Anxiety and panic attacks
Dissociation and depersonalization
Nervous breakdown and suicidal ideation
From 'TM & Serotonin A Model of Effects'