Stress Relief

Definitions and Causes of Stress: Relief Results from Understanding

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
September 9, 2018

Stress Relief


There’s a beautiful human being inside everyone. What makes one different is the stress that covers the beauty.  When the stress is gone, we become our original selves. In this article, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on the 5 things we need to know about stress.


5 things we need to know about stress

The Definition of Stress

Too much to do, too little time, and no energy – that’s what the definition of stress is. When you want to do too much and you have neither energy nor time, you get stressed.


Challenges and Confidence

Secondly, remember you have faced many challenges in the past and you have overcome them all. So, have this confidence that you can handle this challenge as well.


The Importance of Life Itself

Then you must also know that there’s nothing more important in life than life itself. If you are alive, then everything else is. If you are alive, then there is business. If you are alive, so are your relationships. If you are alive, then there is fame or whatever you wish for. Don’t put life at risk to get these other things. You must give more importance to life itself.



Why do you do anything that you do? It’s because you want to be happy. And if you achieve something at the cost of happiness, it’s worth nothing at all. You achieved what you wanted but lost happiness, so that achievement is null and void. So you must keep this in mind.


Karma is Real

Things happen through a different law in the universe. You might have noticed that you are very good to people and still there are people who suddenly become your enemies. Your friends become your enemies. And the opposite happens–someone for whom you have not done any big favor helps you when you really need it. So friendship or animosity happens through some special law of the universe, and it’s called karma.


When your times are good, your worst enemy behaves as a friend; when your times are bad, then your best friend behaves like an enemy. So, understand things from a bigger dimension.


This post first appeared on


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Sri Sri has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world.  He has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and he has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Sri Sri , sri sri ravi shankar , stress , wisdom

Exploring Wisdom: Sri Sri on the Eight Limbs of Yoga

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
February 5, 2018

In 2015, Art of Living founder and guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke with Philip Goldberg on the importance of the eight limbs of yoga. As relevant as ever, Sri Sri’s wisdom encourages us to consider all aspects of a Yoga practice as a path to greater fulfillment, health, and happiness. 


Q: What would you like people to know about Yoga?

Sri Sri: Yoga is like a vast ocean. You can just go for a breeze, or you can go with an oil rig and drill for oil … Yoga offers many things to different people at many different levels–whatever they aspire for: union with the cosmic consciousness, or physical health, mental clarity, emotional stability, spiritual ecstasy — all this is part of yoga.


Q: Does it concern you that people think of Yoga only as asana [the familiar physical postures]?

Sri Sri: Not really, because at that moment that’s what they understand. But once they start doing asana they start seeing there is something beyond that. If interest for meditation gets kindled, then they are on the right track. But if it stops at exercise … it’s not bad, but they will not reach the goal.


Q: When people think of the classic eight limbs of Yoga…

Sri Sri: I knew you would ask about that. Unfortunately, people think the eight limbs are eight steps, one after another. You know, when a baby is born it’s not that one limb develops after another. All the limbs develop simultaneously. The eight limbs of Yoga are so interconnected, if you pull one all the others will come along with it.


Q: Some people think you have to master the yamas and niyamas before you can do the others. [The yamas and niyamas — five behaviors to avoid and five to engage — constitute the first two limbs.]

Sri Sri: The limbs are not sequential, they are all together. The practice of the others contributes to the ability to observe the yamas and niyamas. When we teach meditation in prisons, we see that the moment they have a taste of meditation, their whole thought process and behavior pattern changes. They start on the path of non-violence. They become very truthful, and the tendencies to cheat disappear. So the yamas and niyamas start happening in people’s life just when they begin meditation.


Q: How do your Art of Living programs fit into the eight limbs of classical Yoga?

Sri Sri: Yoga would be incomplete if even one limb is absent from it. All the eight limbs coexist. Our program is the same way. We do some asana, and some pranayama-breathing exercises-and meditation that leads to samadhi [the 8th limb; not a practice but a state of consciousness transcending thought].


This interview first appeared on Huffington Post, and is presented in excerpt. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: asana , Ayurveda , eight limbs , interview , sri sri ravi shankar , yoga , yoga practice , yogi
Nature of the Yogi - Art of Living

The Practice: Sri Sri on the Nature of the Yogi

January 8, 2018

Nature of the Yogi - Art of Living

Yoga is so much more than exercise — it’s a way of being. Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares his thoughts on the far-reaching impact of yoga on the body, mind, and spirit, and the true nature of the Yogi. 


A disease-free body, a violence-free society, a confusion-free mind, a inhibition-free intellect, a trauma-free memory, a sorrow-free soul and a quiver-free breath is the impact that Yoga can make on your life.


More than the body

If you claim that you are a Yogi, then you should have an undying smile on your face. I would say, that is the sign of a Yogi. Yoga makes your emotions softer and more peaceful, and you blossom in your emotions. It brings freedom in your expression and your thought patterns. These are the real signs of Yoga. It is not just to do with the flexibility of the body. Of course, that too is a part of Yoga. The body becomes flexible, and the mind grows in faith and conviction. If all this happens, know that it is the gift of Yoga, and consider yourself as a Yogi.


The path of the Yogi

Many people think of the eight limbs of Yoga as a step-wise process to go level by level. They think that one has to strive to become proficient in one level before ascending to the next. This is not really so. I would say that all these eight limbs or aspects of Yoga are woven together and happen simultaneously.


When a child is conceived in the womb, then all its organs are formed together. It is not that first the feet are formed and then the arms take shape. No, it is not so. All the limbs and organs develop together. This is why we must take all these eight aspects or limbs of Yoga together at every step. Only then can we experience the fullness and totality of Yoga, and can bring about an extraordinary transformation and experience in our life.

Join one of our upcoming yoga retreats and feel for yourself the power and light of the eight-limbed path.

This article first appeared on


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , healthy lifestyle , sri sri ravi shankar , weight-loss , wellness , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat , yogi
The Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Annalies Richmond on Confidence and Compassion

November 13, 2017

The Art of Living Retreat Center


There are so many benefits to the practices of meditation and mindfulness. Peace, joy, and wisdom are all natural rewards of the methods and techniques taught in the Art of Living Retreat Center’s weekly Happiness Retreat, but perhaps two of the most powerful, unexpected qualities we foster in meditation are confidence and compassion. We recently sat down with Art of Living instructor Annalies Richmond to speak about her journey to confidence, compassion, and maintaining self-worth in the face of negative interaction. 


Confidence & the Happiness Retreat

My first experience with Art of Living and the teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar completely blew me away. I was a professional dancer, which is a high-stress and intensely focused career path, and I was always very nervous during auditions and performances. I’d practiced different kinds of meditation before, trying to overcome that nervousness, but it never quite did the trick. A friend recommended the Happiness Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center, and I felt like it brought a new element of mindfulness to my entire life.


After the Happiness Retreat, everything came to life. I started noticing the trees when I would walk to the subway. I started feeling more happy at work. Anything bothersome that would happen would just roll off my back, as long as I was practicing the techniques I’d learned. But the most astounding thing for me, and for my career, was that after I started practicing meditation daily, the nervousness just disappeared. Performance felt natural and normal, like I was in my living room. I remember walking on stage at the Metropolitan Opera in front of four thousand people and not feeling nervous at all.

After dealing with nerves for so long, that was an incredible experience that really demonstrated the power of all the techniques I’d learned in the Happiness Retreat. I enjoyed my career so much more after that, and I felt that the knowledge and wisdom I’d gained during the retreat gave me a much bigger perspective on my life. It made me realize that there was even more I could contribute to the world.


So I began teaching for Art of Living, and learning about how confidence and compassion are intertwined.


How to Navigate Negative Interactions

One of the key insights of yogic wisdom that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on is how to maintain confidence and compassion when someone treats you poorly. The way someone treats you is a reflection of their character, not yours. You are always worthy and loved, no matter how you are treated. If you have self-respect, no one can ever take that away from you, and when you treat other people with respect and honor, it demonstrates the quality and integrity of your character and actually helps them break their own negative patterns.


If you react in a negative way to poor treatment, it’s not helpful to the other person. The way to help people out of their damaging social patterns is to maintain your own center and not get caught up in trying to diagnose or assign intention to their actions. If you approach someone in a calm, serene state, and with an attitude of love and helpfulness, people do pick up on that vibe, and they’re often willing to listen to you.


Building Relationships through Compassion

For instance, I’ve taught at youth correctional facilities, and I’ve really had to learn to suspend my own judgement and approach these kids from a place of understanding and compassion. Often times, many of them are in there because they had no choice, due to their upbringing or circumstances. The first day of these courses usually come with a lot of disrespect. The kids aren’t interested in anything I have to say. But I just have to keep reminidng myself that their behaviour has nothing to do with me, and that I can’t take offense to how they’re reacting to me.


But over two or three days of me just being willing to listen to them without reacting, without yelling back at them, they begin to actually develop a curiosity as to what I have to say. By the fourth day, I’m able to teach them breathing techniques, and by the last day, they don’t want me to leave. We build real relationships. Teaching these young people has been amazing, and has really reaffirmed in my mind that if you maintain equanimity and peace of mind during conflict, you can help with the healing process.


Making the World a More Loving Place

We’re very fortunate to have a teacher like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar alive on this planet. Someone of his enlightened stature, who chooses to share his wisdom with us, who can teach us how to go deeply inwards and get in touch with our true selves. He can show you how to heal yourself and serve the world at the same time. He teaches how to be at peace with ourselves and our surroundings, but also how to be dynamic and make the world more peaceful and loving.


The Art of Living is joy and balance. It’s harmony on the inside, and harmony with the outside. And the Art of Living Retreat Center is such a magnificent natural setting to help you along in your jouney. You wake up and look out the window, and you’re above the cloud lines sometimes, which feels completely ethereal. The combination of meditation and community and nature makes you feel like you’re truly in heaven.


Join Annalies for YesPlus Art of Silence from Dec 30, 2017 – Jan 2, 2018 and begin the New Year feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

The Happiness Retreat runs weekly. 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , happiness , Happiness Program , knowledge , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness , wisdom
Art of Living - Faith in What

Exploring Wisdom: How to Cultivate Faith

September 25, 2017

Art of Living - Faith in What

Faith. We hear this word so often in a spiritual context that we’ve begun to take the meaning for granted. What is faith, exactly? And on our own individual  journeys, what do we put our faith in? Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about the role of faith in the path of spirituality during his last visit to Boone; what it is, how to develop it, and how to develop trust in yourself and your journey. 


TAGS: art of living , faith , happiness , healing , knowledge , mindfulness , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness

Exploring Wisdom: Chant and Be Happy with Kirtan

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
June 26, 2017
Bhaktifest, joshua tree, kirtan
Bhaktifest — Joshua Tree, California

Yoga is on fire in the West, and so it kirtan, or yogic chanting. Kirtan combines music and mantra — words and sounds that vibrate at the highest level of awareness. It is an effortless and joyful way to meditate. You simply let the music and mantra do the work for you.


Kirtan is a different kind of concert-going experience. It’s not so much a performance as it is a journey into the Self — through the practice of listening & singing. While singing along at a kirtan event, you can find your own voice and become one voice with those performing.


For those who find seated meditation difficult, a singing meditation can be just the ticket. Music bypasses the thinking mind, the worried mind,  and goes straight to that part of the brain where the emotions reside. The musical meditation of kirtan soothes the nervous system, just like a yoga class. Both are easy and fun. Kirtan calms the mind without struggling to concentrate.


Because kirtan has its roots in India, many of the songs are sung in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India,  the language of mantra. Most often, a singer (kirtan wallah) leads the chant call-and-response style. She or he sings out a line and the audience sings it back. At  other times songs are sung in unison. Kirtan is a bit like singing around a yogic campfire — creating feelings of oneness and joy.


As you sing with each other in a group, you may experience a deep connection with the musicians, the other group members and even yourself. This oneness and heart connection is one of the highest goals of yoga.


When the music stops, the mind is silent and calm. You are now ready for deeper meditation.


Kirtan: A Universal Language

OM symbol, kirtan


Devotional singing does not belong to any one spiritual path. It is the universal language of Spirit, the song of the soul.

Christians around the world sing Amazing Grace and Amen (AUM-en) choruses. Buddhists chant OM Mani Padme Hoom (OM to the Jewel in the Lotus.) Here the “jewel” is the gem of loving kindness. It is found in the lotus flower of the heart. Those who follow the path of Shiva, the yogi’s yogi, chant OM Namah Shivaya — I honor the highest part of my-Self, the Supreme.

Many Sanskrit chants, like “Asato Ma Sat-ga-ma-ya” (“Lead Us From the Unreal to the Real”) and Lo-kah Sa-mas-tha Suk-hino Bha-van-tu, (“May All Beings Be Happy and Free”) are energized prayers, suitable for any sincere seeker.



Kirtan began in India centuries ago as a spiritual practice. It served as the layman’s way to connect with the Divine. The simple idea behind kirtan was to sing praise to the divine in its many forms.

Although it’s difficult to trace the history of an oral tradition like kirtan, some scholars believe it began as a popular spiritual practice during the bhakti (devotion) movement that began around the year 700 A.D. Devotional singing then spread like wildfire between the 12th and 17th centuries.

“Much of the kirtan explosion in America is inspired by what happened during that later time, and many of the songs we sing are inspired by music composed in that era,” says Russill Paul, author of The Yoga of Sound. “They used kirtan as a way to get in touch with God’s presence and showed everyday people that they could have the same levels of Self-realization and the same depths of mystical experience as a priest performing a sacred ritual or a yogi in deep meditation.”


Western Bhakti

Deva Premal and Miten and Manose. kirtan
Deva Premal, Miten and Manose in Montreal

Today many American kirtans tend to look and feel more like energized pop concerts than spiritual gatherings. Chants have evolved to include undercurrents of soul, rap, hip-hop, electronica, rock ‘n’ roll, and country. The distinctly American influence on traditional kirtan seems to be attracting crowds of people who wouldn’t typically find themselves hooked on yoga’s sacred chants.

In the last ten years, kirtan has become a phenomenon around the world. The new kirtan revolution has been led by Deva Premal, Krishna Das, Donna De Lory, Jai Uttal and many others. Some, like Bhagavan Das and Larissa Stow, sing with a fervor reminiscent of American gospel music.

I attended a kirtan concert in Montreal featuring Deva Premal and Miten and Manose at the Olympia Theater. Imagine 2000 people chanting the Gayatri, starting with OM Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha: OM to the Earth plane, the heavenly plane and beyond!  Incredible.


 In The Shambhala Guide to Yoga, scholar Georg Feuerstein wrote, “The path of bhakti (devotional) yoga is constant remembrance of the Divine. It is the way of the heart, intended to channel and purify emotions through singing, dancing, meditation, and other activities that can help us merge with the Beloved.”


Benefits of Chanting

Chanting is not only the most fun way to meditate (think kirtan karaoke), but, like laughter yoga, it is also good for your health.
Doctors at Cleveland University reported that the rhythmic tones involved in chanting release a cascade of naturally healing chemicals. Imagine feeling good naturally without a pill. They called it the NLE, or Neurolinguistic Effect. Yogis call it a type of samadhi, though ususally a lesser samadhi, brought on by yogic chanting and breathing. The end result is a profound sense of peacefulness.
Chanting can be quite therapeutic — complementary medicine — for those who suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia. French physician Dr. Alfred Tomatis wrote that chanting helps us to control our emotions and eliminate negative thoughts.
Unlike Western psychiatry, chanting goes beyond the body-mind to the realm of Spirit. It results in feelings of oneness and connection.


Beyond Words

There is a saint in India named Swami Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, a modern day swami who heads up the Siddha Yoga Centers around the world. She had this to say about the unique benefits of chanting:


At a certain point, ordinary words can no longer take us where we want to go. Through chanting, we use music and sacred mantras to enter into a dialogue with the divine.

Chanting is a natural way to tune into the frequency of love.The vibrations emanating from Sanskrit chants have a tangible effect on our own inner being. The sweetness of chanting stills the mind, dissolves worries, and opens the heart. Chanting gives us direct access to the spiritual world, balances our subtle energy system (chakras) and allows for deeper meditation.



Kirtan, or devotional singing,  is where yoga and spirituality come together. Krishna Das said that during satsang (company of truth), people gather together “to remember, to turn within and find their own inner path to the One. When we gather together to sing like this we are helping each other find our own paths.”


Start chanting today. Feel more connected with yourself, your Self and with each other.


Free Kirtan/Satsang Every Night

Dining Hall AOLRC/kirtan
Dining Hall AOLRC

Kirtan/Satsang is available at AOLRC in Boone seven days a week in Gita Hall, just below the dining hall on Heavenly Mountain. Come chant and be happy!


Time: 7:30 – 8:15pm.


Kirtan is free of charge. All are warmly invited.


More info? Click here.


“Satsang is the shelter from the changing time and its harsh influence on life.”  


                                                                   Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , bhakti , chant , chanting , happiness , harrison graves md , kirtan , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness , yoga

Exploring Wisdom: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Revitalizing Prana

June 22, 2017


Our breath is our life force. When it is burnt down, overwrought, or weak, that feeling extends to both our bodies and our minds. We recently spoke with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about the movement of our breath, or Prana, and how the meditation techniques learned in our Silent Retreats can help rejuvenate you, body and soul. 


TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , breath , meditation , mindfulness , prana , sri sri ravi shankar , sudarshan kriya

Walking the Path: Why Ayurveda?

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
May 11, 2017
Why Ayurveda
Shirodhara: Ayurveda’s Bliss Therapy

After practicing Western medicine (Allopathy) for 25 years, I became disappointed with many aspects of the culture surrounding it – namely, the lack of emphasis on prevention, and the over-reliance on prescription drugs.


At the time, I wasn’t aware of the system of optimal health from India that is all about prevention. It’s a system that uses natural herbs instead of synthetics, a system that incorporates yoga for healing the body and mind. It’s called Ayurveda, or “the knowledge of life.”


Over the next few years, I discovered the ways in which Ayurveda can be a more effective approach to health, especially when it comes to treating mental unrest like anxiety and stress. Much disease can be prevented as patients learn how to de-stress.  The ultimate goal of Ayurveda is a healthy physical body, a calm (sattvic) mind, and a heart connection with Spirit.


Allopathy vs Ayurveda

Both Ayurveda and Allopathy (traditional Western medicine) have their place in health and healing. “Allo” means opposite, and “pathy” means disease. In allopathy, pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed that have opposite effects to the symptoms. Sometimes, allopathy can be life-saving. Examples include the epi-pen (epinephrine injection) for a life-threatening bee sting allergy (anaphylaxis), and antidotes, like Narcan, for opiate overdose.


However, Allopathy has its shortcomings. It often treats symptoms more than it cures disease. Anti-depressants like Zoloft are prescribed for depression, and Xanax for anxiety. While they may relieve symptoms, they do not offer a cure.


Unfortunately, these synthetic drugs come with long lists of side effects, and can actually affect brain chemistry. Prozac was given a black-box warning by the FDA, the strongest caution given before a drug is yanked from the shelf. Why? Prozac made some suicidal patients worse, especially those in the 18-25 year old age group.

Dr. Deepak Chopra put it bluntly: “I think it was just the fact that there is a lot of frustration when all you do is prescribe medication, you start to feel like a legalized drug pusher. That doesn’t mean that all prescriptions are useless, but it is true that 80 percent of all drugs prescribed today are of optional or marginal benefit.”


Why Ayurveda? Treat Root Causes, Not Symptoms

Ayurveda is, in many ways, opposite to the Western approach. According to Ayurvedic master Dr. David Frawley, deep seated anxieties must be be pulled out by their roots. Both Ayurveda and Yoga do so with yogic breath practices and the practice of mantra. These practices are yoga for your mind. Pranayama and mantra are at the core of the Happiness Program and Sahaj Samadhi Meditation, taught at the Art of Living Retreat Center.


All About Prevention

One answer to “Why Ayurveda” is its emphasis on prevention, or Sva-stha-vrit-ta.

Svasthavritta means “the protocols by which one can remain healthy.”
So much disease (heart attack, stroke, cancer) could be prevented by awareness of these Ayurvedic protocols:

• Treat organic fruits and veggies as medicine. You will be prescribed specific foods and healing spices based on your body-mind type, or dosha.

• Develop a healthy exercise pattern like Yoga or Tai Chi.

• Learn how to de-stress with mantra and pranayama (breath practices).

• Learn the principles of Ayurvedic detox. Put no junk food in your body and no junk food in your mind. Try an Ayurvedic cleanse with superfoods like kitchadi.


Connection With Spirit


Another thing I love about Ayurveda is how it addresses our connection to Spirit. Allopathy seems dry in comparison to the holistic healing traditions of the East, that are steeped in prayer and meditation.


Connection with Spirit is essential for complete health. Treating the body-mind without addressing Spirit leaves us dry, and often unhappy. Connection with Spirit helps us to realize our place in the Universe beyond time and space.


Of course, a spiritual path is a deeply personal decision. Dr. David Frawley tells us that spirituality is a big tent. He wrote that the Divine can be looked upon as a father, a mother, a brother or a friend — or as Nature, a saint, or the one divinity within us all: the higher Self.


In Your Hands

Take charge of your health today. Don’t wait until something breaks. See an Ayurvedic practitioner and discover your dosha (body-mind type). You will be then be prescribed a lifetime of better health: Svasthavritta — Ayurvedic essentials for staying healthy: right food, right exercise, right herbs, right sleep and right actions.
Don’t forget: many Ayurvedic treatments are also fun. Steam bath therapy sweats away toxins. Shirodhara (bliss oil therapy) can calm the mind and expand the awareness. Abhyanga, healing massage with medicated oils, can work wonders. For more info, contact the AOLRC Spa.


No Quick Fix

Ayurveda is not about the “quick fix” or taking pills. Ayurveda is about discovering the root causes of disease, then treating it. Root causes may be related to a toxic diet, a dysfunctional relationship, stress at work, or repetitive thoughts. Yoga, Ayurveda and a contemplative lifestyle, including self-inquiry, are the keys to success.
Choose Ayurveda to stay healthy and prevent illness. Choose Allopathy when it can be of benefit. These two approaches can be complementary, and not mutually exclusive.


Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: allopathy , art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , harrison graves md , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness , yoga
Sri Sri School of Yoga Inauguration

5 Magical Moments During the Wisdom Series with Sri Sri

By Andrew
January 4, 2017

We just had an incredible event with founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and 1,000+ guests at the center. The event was filled with smiles, meditation and moments of joy, but here are five of our favorite moments from the event (plus one extra for those who left before New Year’s!)


silent holy night christmas boone

1. Silent Night, Holy Night

We had many silent nights and many festive ones. Christmas evening stands out in part for its heartfelt rendition of Silent Night with a hall full of love. The traditional candlelit lit atmosphere was replaced by a sea of cell-phone flashlights, which was none the less moving.


Sri Sri School of Yoga Inauguration

2. Inauguration of the School of Yoga

Without much fanfare, a momentous step was made in providing quality, authentic yoga education in the US. With the lighting of a lamp, we signaled that the light of wisdom will be kindled in the coming years in the form of the Sri Sri School of Yoga. Directed by Krishna Verma, the School will open its doors in April of 2016.


White Christmas Sri Sri

3. A White Christmas

The weather was mostly pleasant and marked by misty mountain landscapes. However, we did enjoy one scenic snowfall before the event’s end.


Boone NC aerial

4. Beautiful Silence

There’s nothing quite like going into a New Year blessed with the clarity and peace of mind that silence brings. The silence course was nothing less than wonderful.


Wisdom Series 2016

5. The Wisdom Series

The Wisdom Series was a wake-up call.  The sessions with Sri Sri were thought-provoking, transformative and delightful. Also, the meditations were one of a kind, time after time and deeply moving.

6. New Year’s Celebrations

The event ended for many on December 30. However, for over 200 people who stayed back, the celebrations continued through the New Year with a large Yesplus silence course and other programs. We celebrated New Year’s Eve in true Art of Living style – in the Yoga Remix, a room full of joyful people (most of them in silence) welcomed the New Year with meditation, singing, dancing and laughter.


What were your favorite moments from the Wisdom Series? Tell us in the comments below. Happy New Year & we look forward in advance to our next big celebrations, Guru Purnima in July of 2017!

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: new year , sri sri ravi shankar , wisdom series , yoga

Healing Mantras Workshops 2017

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
December 18, 2016
harrison graves md/healing mantras
Harrison Graves, MD     Wellness Physician, Author and Yogi

Have you or someone in your family experienced anxiety and depression? Do you feel sad or anxious despite prescription antidepressants and tranquilizers? Are you interested in alternative and complementary medicine? If so, please join me, Dr. Harrison Graves, for one of my weekend workshops in 2017: “Healing Mantras For Anxiety and Depression.”


High atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the Art of Living Retreat Center and Spa, I’ll be hosting four weekend Spa retreats in 2017 featuring healing mantras from the Yoga of Sound tradition.


Mantra and Ayurveda

Mantra Therapy is an important part of Ayurveda, the holistic medicine from India and the healing branch of yogic science. Sanskrit mantras, starting with OM, are sound formulas, packed with energy and intention. They have a profound effect on the body-mind. When these sound waves (mantras) are combined with thought waves (intentions), they become powerful tools for insight, healing, creativity and spiritual growth.


Ayurveda’s Holistic Alternative

The healing powers of Sanskrit chanting are just now being discovered in the Western world. Mantras use sound waves, sound energy, to heal our minds on the subconscious level, where the roots of our modern anxieties are found. These healing mantras are a powerful holistic alternative to prescription drugs when it comes to treating anxiety and depression.


According to Dr. David Frawley, mantras are “the most important part of the spiritual and mental therapy of Ayurveda.” Mantra therapy, combined with pranayama (breath technique), is Ayurveda’s treatment of choice for both anxiety and depression.


5 Healing Mantras

In this workshop I will share with you five of the most healing mantras from this Ayurvedic/Yoga of Sound tradition — five mantras for soothing anxiety and breaking through depression:


AUM: The Core Mantra Meditation

Lokah Samastha: The Happiness Mantra

Asato Ma Satgamaya: The Reality Check Mantra

Sat Nam: A Kundalini Antidote For Depression

The Gayatri: A Mantra For Wisdom and Enlightenment


During the workshop, the importance of each Sanskrit mantra is explained, along with its English translation and proper use. Proper pronunciation is essential for achieving the desired results, the fruit of the mantra.


Ayurveda’s Holistic Psychology

For many, the cause of  mental unrest is a lack of love and connection in life — not just a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Holistic Ayurveda shows us how to better connect with each other and with the Universe — how to regain those feelings of love, connection and joy. Like Yoga, it does so by giving us tools that calm our minds, open our hearts and connect us with Spirit.


Ayurveda’s holistic psychology does not recommend the use of Western pharmaceuticals like Prozac. Although healing herbs are used in Ayurveda, the most important antidotes for anxiety and depression are not herbal. They are mantra and pranayama (conscious breathing practices). These techniques, which are common to both Yoga and Ayurveda, can be amazingly effective in calming the mind and enlightening the intellect.


Failure of Prescription Psychiatry

The Western pill model of psychiatry has let us down for many reasons:

• Prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs treat symptoms more than they cure disease.

• Synthetic pills that alter brain chemistry are fraught with side effects, like sedation, weight gain, apathy and altered libido.

• Antidepressants often work no better than sugar pills.


In contrast, the Eastern model uses no such pharmaceuticals. Instead, it uses the tools of mantra and pranayama — to get to the subconscious mind, where the roots of today’s modern anxieties are found.

In the yogic view,  we are at our core healthy, whole and happy by nature. Ayurveda gives us the tools to stay that way —  with pranayama, right foods and right lifestyle.


Higher Consciousness: The Goal

The ultimate goal of Ayurvedic psychology is a higher awareness, a higher consciousness, to help us understand our place in the universe. Once you realize that you are a being of light whose natural state is oneness and bliss, anxiety and depression tend to disappear.


The way to get there is through meditation — not through medication. Higher awareness does not come in pill form. The fastest path to this awareness, this feeling of connection with the cosmos and with each other is through mantra and the breath practices.


Meditation Made Easy

Of all the different types of meditation, chanting Sanskrit mantras, like AUM,  is perhaps the easiest way to meditate. Combined with the yogic breath, it is an effective way to calm the mind — especially for beginners. No experience is necessary.


You can’t force your mind to be quiet.  But with meditation,  you can experience the quiet that is already there.


2017 Workshops


eternal OM/Healing Mantras


Please join me for one of my four weekend healing mantra workshops in 2017:

April 21-23, 2017

May 5-7, 2017

September 22-24, 2017

October 13-15, 2017


A tuition only option ($180) is available for those who have housing already available.


Custom meal and lodging plans are available.
The Art of Living Retreat Center offers three yummy vegetarian meals a day and a full line of Spa services, from massage to shirodhara (Ayurveda’s Bliss Therapy).


For more info, or to enroll, click here.
Questions? Email Dr. G at [email protected].


I offer these mantras to you as a form of complementary medicine — a sound healing alternative to prescription drugs for the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression.



Harrison Graves MD/Healing Mantras
Dr. Harrison Graves MD FACEP is a physician, yogi and author who teaches mantra meditation as an alternative and complementary treatment for anxiety and depression.

After a long career as a board-certified emergency physician and associate UNC professor, Dr. G. left the ER behind to pursue a new interest: the Yoga of Sound (aka Ayurvedic Sound Healing). It is the yoga of healing music and healing mantra.

Moving to California, he signed on for a music and mantra internship with Russill Paul (Anirud Jaidev), a master sound yogi from Chennai. In addition, Dr. G studied Kundalini Yoga and Ayurveda for two years at the Wisdom Fire School of Yoga in Berkeley, California.

In 2010, Dr. Graves began teaching Mantra Meditation, presenting mantra workshops at yoga studios and wellness centers along the East Coast.

In 2014, he published The Mystical Chakra Mantras: How to Balance Your Own Chakras with Mantra Yoga, the world’s first interactive ebook on mantra yoga, with links to YouTube where readers may experience the mantras.

In 2015, he began to write alternative medical blogs on, taught Mantra Meditation at the McLean Meditation Institute in Sedona and published Mantra Meditation: An Alternative Treatment For Anxiety and Depression.

Dr. Graves currently writes alternative medical blogs and teaches mantra meditation at the Art of Living Ayurvedic Retreat Center and Spa, high in the mountains of Western North Carolina.


Medical Disclaimer: The intention of this workshop is to educate and inform, to make seekers more aware of mantra meditation as a complementary therapy for anxiety and depression. If you wish to decrease or stop your prescription medications, please do so gradually, under the supervision of your prescribing physician. Sudden withdrawal can be dangerous, even life threatening.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

Learn more about our 2018 retreats and offerings!


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