This foundation focuses on spreading happiness

Photo by Asiya Gilmore

What does happiness look like to you? The Art of Living Foundation wants you to feel true and pure happiness for an overall better life through meditation and breathing exercises.

The Tallahassee chapter offered a free 90-minute event on Sunday as a teaser for its full retreat. During this session at the Unitarian Universalist Church, guests were asked a few questions by the host, Neha Kumasi: “What causes stress in your life? How do you handle that stress? What would you like to gain in your life?”

“My stress is caused from financial issues,” one guest, who decided to remain anonymous, said. “I handle my stress by sleeping. Talking it out sometimes. But my main goal in life is to gain clarity.”

Others said that they would like to gain freedom from anxiety and experience pure happiness.

Kumasi offered that “true happiness is inside us.”

“Self-care days are not just for the physical but they are needed for your mind as well,” she added.

According to the Art of Living Foundation, “The Art of Living Retreat Center seeks to reawaken human values – compassion, love, togetherness, joy, harmony – and to nurture them in our day-to-day life. The Center hosts workshops and retreats that take you deeper into the rich experience of life.”

After giving a quick summary of the foundation, Kumasi moved into the meditation session. As the second half of the mini-retreat began, helpers quietly closed the blinds and turned the lights off to set the mood.

Guests were instructed to learn “Bellows breath,” a breathing technique that is said to help with clarifying the mind and energizing the body. During the instruction, attendees were told to close their eyes, lift their arms as they breathe in and release them as they breathe out. The breaths are intentionally forceful. It started off slow and increased over time.

After doing this for about 15 minutes, the meditation began. The room was silent and everyone was calm. The instructor went through the series of mediation and by the end, some guests were in their final stage of REM.

As the lights turned back on and guests started waking up, they explained how much the 30-minute session helped them.
“I feel like I just slept for a full eight hours,” one attendee stated.

“I was scared that I would fall out of my chair from being so relaxed,” another said.

Rakesh Sharma, another host for the event, introduced himself and gave a short testimony about the life change he has experienced since being in this program.

“My wife and daughter were walking on eggshells around me because I was so frustrated and angry with the things that were going on in my life,” he said.

Sharma said that after his friend brought him to a session, he became determined to fix his life. The back pains that doctors had once told him would need surgery, had healed and now Sharma is running marathons.

Both hosts welcomed everyone to join the three-day session in February and March for $395, $295 for students. After doing these workshops, attendees are offered the opportunity to attend weekly meditation sessions for the rest of their lives.

For more information, contact Rakesh Sharma at 850-270-7179.