Table of Content
YOGA: The Practise and the Science
16 July 2016
By Professor Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. (instructor of Kundalini Yoga, director of research for the Kundalini Research Institute and the Kriplau Centre of Yoga & Health, Assistant Prof of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.)
With response by Maureen Goodman (Programme Director for BK in the UK)
MC Toots Beckett welcomed everyone, briefly introduced the work of the two charities, the Brahma Kumaris and the Janki Foundation for Spirituality in Healthcare, and then introduced the theme of the evening and welcomed Prof Khalsa and Sister Maureen. There were about 150 people present and 115 had joined online.
Prof Sat Bir Singh Khalsa has been practising yoga since 1971 and actively researching it since 2001. He travels internationally, attending and running Yoga Research Conferences. He, therefore, understands the global perspective of the practice and science of yoga in modern society and the implications of that for society and health care. Yoga is not only the physical postures and exercises, he and his research colleagues view it more as a traditionally contemplative practice, seeing the physical components as being there to support the meditative component of yoga.
The popularity of yoga practice is becoming an international movement, greatly enhanced by the International Yoga Day introduced in December 2014 by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. It is held on June 21, northern Summer Solstice, and is observed by millions of people around the world.
This increase in the popularity of yoga is reflected in things like modern surveys showing the increase in people participating in yoga and by articles appearing in magazines such as Life and Time in the USA featuring actors and models doing yoga on the front covers. It has become part of modern culture and appears in advertisements to sell products, even by a big corporation like McDonalds, as well as being proclaimed as a useful therapy for medical conditions. Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, along with nine major airports in the US, have a yoga room.
Originally, yoga was viewed as a practice for inner growth rather than as a form of medicine. The idea of using it for health became popular in 1963 when the Indian government commissioned a book on Yoga Therapy for general health. And, just as yoga came to the west, so has yoga therapy arrived, as featured in books like Yoga As Medicine and The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, and once again in an article in Time Magazine on How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body being featured on the front cover.
Of great joy to Prof Khalsa is the eBook he wrote on the psychophysiology of yoga, Your Brain on Yoga being endorsed by Harvard Medical School. Twenty years ago it was inconceivable that yoga practice and Harvard Medical School would be featured together on the same book cover. There is now such a large body of work looking at how yoga works mentally, emotionally and physically, that reviews have been written on it, and reviews have been written of the reviews. This reflects that it is a growing body of interest.
The autonomic nervous system is the main conveyor of information about emotion and stress in the body, and it is called that because it was believed to be automatic, with the understanding that there was no control over it. It was, therefore, important, when studies showed that this autonomic nervous system is consciously relaxed by yogic meditation. This finding is important for using yoga as a therapy as it illustrates the possibility of self-regulation, the ability of human beings to control how they feel internally. Being able to control stress in the body is a key factor in terms of yoga’s benefit.
One of the most recent techniques of modern science is that of molecular biology. It was thought that the genes in our DNA could not be changed, but, modern science now knows that there are things that can change the activity of the genes. For example, smoking cigarettes can turn on genes that can cause cancer. It has now been found that when people who show high stress levels use yoga as a therapy the expression of the genes changes and their stress levels are lowered. So, yoga has the ability to affect our cellular biology at the molecular level.
The brain activity of a Buddhist meditator has been studied by a cutting edge neuro energy research machine that can look at which areas of the brain change during meditation. It creates a precise map showing how the brain works during meditation. In meditation the attention is specifically focused and this stops the mind from wandering. In this study, the practice of meditation is actually seen to change brain activity by shutting down some areas of brain activity while activating others.
Over time, the brain of the long term meditator changes in structure through brain plasticity in the same way as weight lifting works on the plasticity of the muscles. As energy is devoted to meditation, a meditator’s brain is developed. While activity is observed in short term meditators, greater development takes place in long term meditators. Modern science is thus seeing that the benefits of yoga are not just a placebo effect.
One of the key features of meditation is that attention is controlled, stopping the mind from wandering. In a study by Harvard scientists, the consequences of stopping the mind wandering were looked at. Their conclusion being that regardless of what anyone is doing their mind will frequently wander, and that less happiness is felt when the mind is wandering than when it is not. Most wandering thoughts, it was found, are survival thoughts, being stressful and unhappy, so the majority of thoughts are negative in tone. When the attention is focused as in meditation, the mind is peaceful so greater happiness is experienced.
It was clear that long-time meditators experience less decline in fluid intelligence, the ability to reason and to think abstractly and solve problems, and they are less at risk of long term psychological disorders and mood disturbances. The more time given to mind-wandering, the more at risk of these disorders someone is. So, meditation is like the fountain of youth for brain functioning, not only is the intelligence level maintained, but so is the brain functioning architecture.
The greater benefit of long-term over short-term practice of yoga leads to understanding the importance of adopting the practice of yoga into the health system and into schools and other places of education. Learning these skills leads to life-long self-regulatory benefits which lead to happier, healthier people being more in control, less emotionally and stress reactive and feeling more positive.
Prof Khalsa shared many other studies that are being done illustrating the benefits of yoga practice for the reduction of things like stress, depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, trauma, violence and mental health, and how these are slowly becoming apparent to the scientific, medical, professional and educational worlds. This level of evidence has grown to the extent that the US will be holding its 5th symposium on yoga research in September this year. This body of research has just been published as a book called The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.
Sister Maureen talked of the importance of knowing about the scientific backing for the effects of meditation, such as the plasticity of the brain. It helped us understand how Dadi Janki’s brain functions so well at the age of 100 years, after having been through several illnesses. It seems she has the ability to regenerate herself on a molecular level because she comes back seeming a lot stronger. She does that through the practice of Raja Yoga Meditation.
The practice of Raja Yoga Mediation is the art of internal self-mastery and self-awareness by the focusing of the mind on the true self and connecting to the Divine through the daily study of spiritual knowledge. This keeps the mind from wandering into the areas of wasteful negative thoughts. This made it not surprising that one study touched on by Prof Khalsa showed those practicing Raja Yoga meditation (as taught by the Brahma Kumaris) to be generally happier than the control group.
The programme ended with some questions and answers. and Toots thanking the speakers, everyone who had helped in organising the event and the audience for coming as well as those who had tuned online.
The evening finished with a meditation commentary by Sister Maureen.
In Photos: Holi Celebrations at Harmony House, Leicester
30 March 2016
Think Less Think Better Feel Great - Br Ken at Harmony House, Leicester on 20th March
30 March 2016
In Photos: The Journey from Ignorance to Enlightment - Br Mike at Harmony House, Leicester on 13th March
30 March 2016
Brother Marcelo From Colombia at Harmony House, Leicester
8 March 2016
News in Photos - Shivratri Celebrated in Harmony House, Leicester on 28th February
7 March 2016
In Photos - Tamil Group Visits Leicester
19 February 2016
In Photos: Sr Denise at Harmony House Leicester on 30th January
2 February 2016
Video Highlights of the Antalya Retreat
2 February 2016
Click on above image to play
In Photos: Cambridge Br Prashant's Talk on Spiritual Intelligence at Harmony House, Leicester
28 January 2016
Day of Remembrance - GCH, London
19th January 2016
The relationships of Mother, Father giving the love in Baba's room
The Satguru, exploring purity and Teacher, exploring wisdom in the Conference Hall. The bliss of the relationship with the Beloved Companion was set up in the Silence Room.
The Joy of His friendship was symbolized by a beautiful golden aged garden display in the Children's Room.
The Tower of Peace was also created in the Seminar Room to experience Peace
The Auditorium represented the power of knowledge and yoga.
"Dadi Janki - 100 Years of Service" Celebration with the UK BK Family at Grand Meridian, London
16 January 2016
Video and Transcript: "Unshakeable Faith, Unbreakable Love" - Dadi Janki in conversation with Liz Hodgkinson at Global Co-operation House, London on Thursday 7th January
8 January 2016
Unshakeable Faith, Unbreakable Love
Dadi Janki in conversation with Liz Hodgkinson, author of Dadi Janki - A Century of Service
Global Co-operation House, London - Thursday 7th January 2016
On arrival guests – around 525 in the Auditorium and Seminar Room - were shown a video about Dadi Janki's life, with many people sharing what they've learned and experienced though her company - her love, her words and her example. To the surprising music of the James Bond theme tune, MCs Pavan and Matthew brought on to the stage brought three giant helium balloons in the shape of a one and two zeros, to read ‘100'. Looked at the other way, they could read ‘007'. ‘Come to think of it, Dadi is a special agent, they joked, ‘Not On Her Majesty's Service but On God's Service!'
A slide show capturing special moments from Dadi's 100 years of service was shown, with photos of early days with Brahma Baba. London peace marches, and Dadi meeting a whole range of people of different, cultures, faiths and backgrounds and ages, including Pope John Paul, the Dalia Lama, Prince Charles, Rajiv Ghandi, Robin Gibb, Abdul Kalam, Baba Ramdev, Narendra Modi, Uri Geller and many others. There were wonderful portraits of Dadi sharing, listening intently, studying, dancing, pointing upwards, wagging that finger, smiling and clenching a firm fist of determination.
Dadi Janki and Sister Jayanti, along with Liz Hodgkinson, then came on stage. Sister Roshni presented Liz with a beautiful box, inside which was a copy of Liz's newly published biography of Dadi, Dadi Janki - A Century of Service which Liz then gave to Dadi, who immediately started reading it.
Liz: As a young journalist, I was commissioned by She magazine to write an article about the Brahma Kumaris, as the only spiritual organisation run by women. From the first time I met Dadi, I thought there's something special about these people. I didn't know anything about them, their history or beliefs. Dadi told my husband Neville and I to do the Raja Yoga meditation course. After that, Neville became a BK. I didn't but I was supportive because I liked them and what they were working to achieve. I've spent the last year and a half studying Dadi, where she came from and how she's achieved what she's achieved. A lot of that has been though vision, courage and determination.
Q: When Dadi came to cold, grey London in 1974, did she imagine that in 2016 - her 100th year – that all this would have been achieved, that the influence of the BKs would have spread all over the world?
Dadi: It's the wonder of the Father. He created this whole game. Baba told me many years ago: just remain peaceful and happy. Someone once took a photo of me with my hand raised; I see it all as a detached observer: He is the Almighty who made everything happen. I'm so fortunate He made an innocent one like me His instrument and that He also made me His friend.
Q: Even when you choose an instrument, you still have to work hard! In the 1970s it was a very different society from what it is today. How did Dadi manage to attract Westerners - people not of an Indian/Hindu background? In 1970 few had heard of karma or reincarnation. How did Dadi, a fairly elderly Indian lady, who'd never even met a Westerner before, cross the cultural and spiritual barrier and attract Westerners – English, Australian, American and from all over?
Dadi: What does it mean to be an attached observer? There's the understanding of the essence of knowledge that everyone is a soul, a child of the One. My deep feeling was that, just as God had made me realise the value of human life, I'd like everyone to realise the value of their life. Did you ever dream you'd become a friend with someone like me and be in such a gathering? You're an example yourself and there are many others. We always meet with a smile. A smile alone can bring newness in life. When I listen to old stories and other people's issues, it takes away the value of my own life. We have to be detached but have a loving nature.
Liz: I never imagined that I'd be here, doing this, 35 years later! But I did feel then that life would never be the same again. I'd researched Eastern movements and groups and hadn't liked them but with Dadi it was different. I was proved right!
Q: How much does Dadi think that it was the strength of the vibrations that attracted the young and well educated Westerners who came at the beginning, rather than the actual knowledge being shared?
I found in them wonderful service companions.
Q: In all other Indian movements, it was a male at the head – often very charismatic and educated. They started off quite poor but then got rich and famous and very pleased with themselves and living in luxury. This has never happened with the BKs. To what extent does Dadi think that the leadership of women has attracted people to the organisation and influenced how it has grown?
Dadi: Externally, men can have force and suppress women with that. But God gave women a lot of inner strength to see men as our brothers. Even while she was taking the course, Sister Jayanti changed everything very quickly – her dress, her home, her lifestyle, etc. Many sisters came along to serve all around the world.
Q: Dadi has a unique gift of picking the right people for the task and the place. Dadi saw in those who came early on – people of both Indian and Western backgrounds - something they may not have seen themselves and gave them the courage to do what they'd wouldn't have dreamed possible. How does Dadi manage to do that?
Dadi: When I call you, ‘my sister', do you feel that power? There's definitely a special power from above working on you to ask these very interesting questions!
Q: Dadi came from a very traditional Indian background, yet in many ways Dadi was ahead of her time. When Dadi came in 1970s, there were no women vicars, rabbis, although now women spiritual leaders are fairly common. Dadi also led the way having your rooms painted white – at that time it was strong colours and patterns everywhere! Dadi pays a lot of attention to detail. She was a fore-runner in the now fashionable practice of de-cluttering; Dadi's homes and spaces were never cluttered. I remember Dadi saying: Your home must always be welcoming and free of clutter, clean and smart, ready for whoever may come. Dadi never let anything stop her - never gave up, never worried about not having any money, always thought big, has never been nervous. Does Dadi actually never get nervous or afraid?
Dadi: Please don't keep saying Dadi, Dadi, because it's definitely the One above who is using you! I had a lot of pain this afternoon but by the evening I was well. God is truly the Almighty Authority and He gives me power. He's revealing Himself. It's no glory of mine – it's His glory.
Q: You might imagine that someone reaching 100, having ‘conquered' so many countries and travelled so widely, would always have had good health. Actually, Dadi has had to cope with serious illness for most of her life. One of the greatest things she teaches us is the power of mind over matter. These days there's a lot of emphasis on illness and medical treatment – how much does mind play in bouncing back from ill health?
Dadi: God keeps telling us to stay focused on One but the mind is mischievous and plays games. We study four subjects: knowledge, yoga, practical application and service. Knowledge is: who I am and who belongs to me. As a soul, I'm not aware of physical relations. Because my mind is linked with God, the soul receives power to travel far distances alone. In practical life I always kept courage; courage helps enormously. All my life I've experienced how my courage brings the Father's help. When my heart is honest, I know the Lord is pleased with me. He says: Never be displeased and never cause displeasure. What happens to the face when anyone is displeased? There were 60,000 people at a recent event in Delhi. Sitting or standing, I stay in silence, in God's remembrance. I don't write notes. The intellect thinks big – in an unlimited way. God is unlimited and He makes us the same. He stays above in the land of silence with the sole concern of bringing benefit to all of us. He tells us that the cause of our sorrow is: lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. In the early days an old lady would sometimes stay with us. The only thing she found difficult was that Dadi had no interest in fashion or hairstyles and she always wanted to go out and get her hair done! It's such a waste of money and time!
Liz: Dadi has also shown us how to live simply. We don't accumulate - or even want – so many possessions. There's the understanding that they're not really going to enhance my life and I have to keep taking them with me when I move. People are coming round to that way of thinking. In the West particularly we've far too many possessions – we hoard things. To me it's at the heart of Dadi's power. Before anything else, Dadi sets an example – to help people maximise their meditation power and their connection with God.
Q: In leadership circles they speak of the big ‘D' – the big distractions. Those who don't reach their potential are those who get distracted. Dadi, on the other hand, has always had total dedication; she has never let anything come in the way of her goal, has she?
Dadi: You haven't actually lived with me but you've managed to capture the essence of what Dadi stands for! But no need for ‘Dadi, Dadi'. God's teachings are wonderful.
Liz: Dadi has never got bored – she's just as enthusiastic as when I first met her. What's the difference between courage and enthusiasm? Enthusiasm is infectious; courage can be an individual thing. ‘Passionate' is a word now overused by marketers, meaning enthusiasm for their product. Dadi has so much enthusiasm for her product!
Dadi: Yes, we need courage and enthusiasm to make things happen. You actually need zeal as well as enthusiasm in order to make a nice idea a reality.
Liz: Dadi is very down to earth and practical. Nothing is too small to escape Dadi's attention – even the positioning of radiators here at Global House! Dadi thinks big yet also gives attention to tiny details that are important.
Dadi: The Lord is pleased with an honest heart and this was proved in the building of this House. We had less than £100 when we started thinking about this place. We kept a meditation room, and we would come and meditate here, at the same time the building work began. It's amazing how it all happened. I have been a detached observer.
Liz: All this helps us to understand how Dadi conquered the West.
Dadi: When East and West come together, then everything is the best. Otherwise East is one place and West another. Let there be such honesty and love in your heart that it touches the hearts of others. Then I'll say: You're God's right hand and I'm His left hand. You're sitting on the right, I am on the left but let each of us take such power - that light and that might - from God. There's a body, yes, but still let there be light: I am a soul and God belongs to me. Everyone here belongs to One, whether they accept it at the moment or not. I belong to Him, He belongs to Me. God is my Companion and says: Just sit comfortably, in sweet silence. Does silence make us become sweet or is silence sweet?
If you all find these things easy to understand and accept, then carry away this one thing: let your food and drink be pure, and let your thoughts also be pure and elevated. Those pure, elevated thoughts will serve in an incognito way. I've found it amazing what people found difficult to understand and accept 40 years ago, they now find very easy. Knowledge is easy to put into your life. Having an example in front of you enables you to put it into practice yourself. You're mentioning Dadi's name but it's actually God's name.
We've been conversing but this has all been ‘yoga'. Yoga means connection with God. When there's that connection with the Almighty, you draw power in your life and your actions are then powerful and elevated. Even if there have been mistakes, God's power can help you realise what is right and what is wrong and choose to do the right thing from now on.
Sister Jayanti then led the audience into meditation: A soul, a being of light, a being of peace…my spiritual identity. Connecting with The Divine, The One above, The Almighty, and Source of Light and Love I draw that for myself… God's light touches the soul and fills it with purity and truth. God's love heals the soul, removing all sorrow and pain and replaced with joy. From the Ocean of Peace I receive peace but the power of peace also reaches out into the world, touching the entire human family, all forms of life, the elements of nature… and nature returns to a state of harmony again; peace returns to the entire world. I stay connected to the One above, filling myself with light and love, with that might and with that peace, so that I too can be an instrument to share this with others.
Brother Minal walked slowly down the aisle towards the stage, singing the powerful song, I See The Light. Dadi then put him on the spot asked him to sing a few words in Hindi and he responded brilliantly to the challenge with a few lines of one of Dadi's favourite songs, Remember the days of your childhood.
Dadi then gave drishti and toli to all from the stage, with Sister Jayanti giving blessings. Meanwhile Liz signed copies of her book about Dadi in reception.
Click on the image above to watch this 1 hour, 40 minute interview.
Click here to download a copy of the interview.
Photo Album: Dadi Janki at Harmony House Leicester, with Raj Yogi Families from the Midlands and the North on 7th Jan
8 January 2016
Photo Album: Dadi Janki's Public Programme "Unshakeable Faith, Unbreakable Love" in Leicester on 6th Jan
8 January 2016
Dadi Janki welcomed to Global Cooperation House in London on 3rd January
6 January 2015
A beautiful evening was prepared for Dadi's welcome. Brother Sanjay and Sister Jaymini both welcomed Dadi to her own home and congratulated her for her 100 years. They shared: Dadi you don't think, speak of anything other than Baba, you are an incarnation of economy and unity. You are a solid bridge between the East and the West, who has performed miracles and given Baba's children new life. You are the only Dadi who reads her emails, never misses Amrit Vela and no one can bring you down from your elevated stage. There was then a beautiful dance by five sisters and a poem by Sister Christine and Sister Sharon entitled God Only Knows. Dadi then shared.
I am multi million times fortunate, I conducted class in Om Shanti Bhavan to all Madhuban, Gyan Sarovar and Global Hospital niwasis and then gave everyone toli. Baba knows the depth of everything, Baba is my Companion, I am His companion this is His wonder. The day Brahma Baba surrendered his life, I said to my lokik father: ‘You are not my father, this one is my father,' then all trace of attachment ended there and then.
How Baba has benefitted us! When Shiv Baba made Brahma Baba the instrument, Brahma gave his life completely. There is no one here who does not have Baba in their heart and in their head - I have this guarantee. It's fortune that God's my Companion; He is the Ocean of Knowledge, Peace, the Almighty Authority - my Father! Who is your Father? The same One! The forefinger goes up and Baba is making the whole world dance on this finger. When the finger point's inwards it's that One who's in our heart and in our head.
Dadi knows you all like to celebrate her birthday. Baba taught us how to live and stay alive. Baba is our Companion and with knowledge He has taught us to be detached observers. It is Baba who inspires. It's a lovely thing to be Baba's children. Kumars and Kumaris have remained pure and there's no ego, no ‘yours' and ‘mine'. There's a difference between power, strength and energy? People ask: ‘Where does your energy come from?' I use my time in a worthwhile way and that energy helps me. Who am I and who is mine? Baba has said: Give the introduction of who He is and what He is like. Each one is Baba's child - all of you are wonderful. Each one's story is so wonderful, each one has played their part, and I say from my heart that all of you are honest and because of having an honest heart God has sacrificed Himself to you. In the soul conscious stage there is no kind of lust, anger, attachment; and ego has died. Now go beyond the consciousness of the body. Dadi says to Baba: Those souls who have left the body, where have they gone? Baba is not telling me. Many of you have not taken direct sustenance from Brahma Baba but because of your honesty you have experienced so much happiness, you have taken sustenance from Baba through your yoga in an unlimited way. Baba has given sustenance through the power of His thoughts - who has this feeling? Dadi has a request: that if there is any weakness still inside, have compassion, have mercy for yourself and change now. Baba say: Be obedient, faithful and honest, be manmanabhav - remember only One, connect to only One. Baba has made us belong to Him. In front of the whole world Baba makes you an instrument like this.
When you approach Global Co-operation House do you have the feeling of where you are going? Global House has received the loving co-operation of everyone; therefore the vibrations from here are going out to the whole world. Each one should look at themselves and each one should stay alive for 84 births and not one birth less. Each one has this faith. The strength that comes through faith means that your feet don't touch the ground. Last night on the plane the hostesses were smiling at Dadi, so who has created this game? That's what comes from my heart: Baba you have made me belong to you; human beings and deities don't have the strength that Baba gives to us. So now from your heart experience what an angelic stage is.
In Photos: Sister Deepika's 55th Birthday Celebrated at Harmony House, Leicester on 26th Dec
4 January 2015
Announcing: Unshakeable Faith Unbreakable Love - An Evening of Wisdom with Dadi Janki
4 January 2016
Following in the Footsteps of Father Brahma
1 January 2016
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Om shanti. The above image is an inspiration for personal effort from 1st to 18th January - Following in the Footsteps of Father Brahma.
Brighton centre has created this project for making personal effort collectively by taking a virtue and title to practice each day leading up to 18th January 2016.
A pdf of this flyer can be downloaded. You are most welcome to join us if you wish.
In Baba's yaad,
In Photos: Christmas celebrated in Harmony House, Leicester on 13th December
15 December 2015
Latest Goings on in the Balkans
7 December 2015
This Friday evening 4th December - Special Performance of Wondariya for the GCH BK Family
4 December 2015
When We Change the World Changes - Climate Change 2015
30 November 2015
InnerTechnology for Wellbeing Retreat - "Experience the Power of Silence" October 30th to November 1st, Lighthouse Retreat Center, Worthing, UK
30 November 2015
A retreat organised and supported by Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (UK)
The Information Technology (IT) Team of the BKWSU (UK) decided to invite a small group of IT professionals who were comfortable with moments of silence for inner work and contemplation near the seaside. 12 Participants including IT Developers, IT Project Managers, a Senior IT Executive, an IT Sales Director and few IT Consultants, plus an accountant and a Social Care Manager joined this retreat. Most participants were from UK and had attended one previous IT events with the Brahma Kumaris. Two participants came for the first time to a Brahma Kumaris event.
The retreat began with a warm welcome from the co-ordinator and team of the Retreat centre. This was followed by an icebreaker to help people know each other better. The aim and objective of the retreat were presented and shared in the group.
The next day, John McConnel and Mark Fleming facilitated 2 sessions and their personal experiences helped the participants to see how silence and self reflection could be used in daily life. Participants enjoyed sessions such as 'Silence in Action', 'The Healing Power of Silence' and 'Silence, the forgotten dimension'. Participants also enjoyed walks near the sea and had an opportunity to practise 'being in silence' in some activities. Silent meditation, guided meditations with Sister Chitra and a meal shared in silence were also part of the various activities during this retreat for IT Professionals. Nawin Ameti facilitated the Saturday cultural event with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm; we all had a chance to dance, sing and enjoy the games!
The retreat ended in great success, thanks to everyone's co-operation. Participants left the retreat centre recharged after having experienced a deeper sense of self and some of them realised that their self-awareness in or outside the busy and stressful world was probably their biggest 'Project' to look after
Here are what some participants wrote in their feedback after the retreat
"The retreat was really helpful. It has changed the way I look at life. Away from a busy life, it has been a peaceful weekend"
"The retreat was a wonderful experience, an opportunity to be away from routine, family and work life...and focus on inner-self, peace and joy"
The InnerTech Team
"Good News You Are Not Your Brain!" Science That Frees The Spirit By Neville Hodgkinson
28 November 2015
‘I was always a bit suspicious that I wasn't my brain……I never had it properly explained to me how it would be possible that it was me!' shared MC Sarah Eagger, to an audience of over 100 present and 50 online. Sarah introduced Neville Hodgkinson as a ‘journalist in the truest sense; as a seeker of truth who is wishing to uncover the heart of the matter….for over 30 years he has been investigating how the two worlds of science and spirituality meet. He continues to explore and make sense of reality…'
Neville's lecture took the form of a presentation quoting from many leading and cutting edge scientists of today and the last century who have uncannily been questioning the presence of spirit and the possibility of consciousness beyond the brain. This is still a challenging subject to most scientists as the majority are very set in the belief that the mind emerges from the brain. There is still the assumption, shared by 99% of neuroscientists, that we are our brains!.... ‘Yet there are flaws in this reasoning and brain activity is now being recognized as not being the same as thinking, feeling and seeing'.
Neville explored, with the audience, his investigations upholding the assertion that we are not the brain and instead he suggested we are ‘conscious agents', using the brain and the physical body in which to interface with the world.
Sarah thanked Neville for the ‘rich meal indeed!' and questioned him on how if mind is the matrix of all matter then how come we have individual experiences? Neville responded by suggesting that at the deepest reality we are all connected, and by returning to the Source, the Seed, with our minds we can renew this experience of wholeness, and love, even as individuals. In Raja Yoga we learn to connect with the Source of highest energy and this guides us to renew our consciousness.
Neville closed with a quotation from Dadi Janki, president of The Janki Foundation:
? ‘Everything starts with the heart. The heart takes in happiness and sorrow, and harbours feelings. These feelings shape our attitude, our vision and our awareness… We have to clean up the heart by dealing with issues and feelings that affect it…..using what we need and placing a full stop to what we don't need. When the heart is true and clean, attitude and vision also become pure and only then will the One remain in our awareness.' ?
The evening finished with a meditation commentary by Sarah. Click here for detailed report.
Unusual Book Launch: Three Books about Dadi Janki Launched in Delhi by leading Indian Publisher
22 November 2015
An unusual launch by a leading Indian publisher of three books about Dadi Janki took place in Delhi on November 20th.
Held in the Chinmaya Mission hall, it was organised by Ocean Books, established more than 55 years ago. The event attracted widespread media attention, with TV coverage, and reports the next day in seven newspapers.
The first book launched was Dadi Janki: A Century of Service, by Liz Hodgkinson, a distinguished UK author of more than 50 published books. It is a biography focusing on the 40 years during which Dadi served outside India, arriving in the UK with nothing in 1974, and achieving a global empire with centres in more than 120 countries.
The event also marked publication of I Know How to Live, I Know How To Die – The Teachings of Dadi Janki, by Neville Hodgkinson, Liz's former husband and a BK since 1981.
Neville also wrote on behalf of Dadi Janki a book previously published in English under the title InsideOut, now brought out in a Hindi edition.
A further attraction of the event was the presence of three celebrity guests: the Hon. Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation; Sister Shivani, star of the hit TV series Awakening with the Brahma Kumaris, and author of Happiness Unlimited; and actor Suresh Oberoi, her co-presenter.
The audience was also addressed by Bri Mohanbhai, senior BK brother and long-term chief editor of Purity newspaper.
BK delegation onstage for one hour during the "24 Hour Meditation for the Earth" held at the Grand Rex Theatre in Paris on 1st November
22 November 2015
This news comes on the heels of the events of Friday 13th November, which has left such a mark across France. The messages of support from all Baba's family around the globe have truly touched the hearts of Baba's children in France, and we return multi-million fold thanks for this open support.
A BK delegation1 is also about to participate In the COP212 talks in Paris, which start in just a few days. Again, we express gratitude to Baba and drama for yet another wonderful opportunity for service through body and mind, during this conference (30 November–11 December 2015).
Sr. Valeriane, Baba's instrument in Geneva, has been active in many UN conversation about the Environment and Interfaith for many years, and heard of a special event planned in Paris for Sunday 1st November 2015. The venue was The Grand Rex that is one of the largest cinemas in Europe and a shrine to Parisian cinema. Its main auditorium - seats 2650 people - was home to a 24 hour long programme in which 24 speakers led 24 hours of meditation for the Earth (www.24earth.org/en/).
Ten BKs from France were on stage for one hour starting at prime time 19:00 hrs (Paris time) on Sunday 1st November in front of the audience of 1000 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQQacYQoVB8). Meanwhile the BK family around the world joined everyone in Mount Abu at the time too, to combine energies for this coming together of peopel with pure intent and gratitude for International Yoga Hour. The event was also broadcast live on YouTube, making the audience absolutely Internation. BKs in Australia watched the live broadcast for Amrit Vela (the next morning)!, feeling such joy about this opportunity for Baba's light to reach far and wide. Baba's children in over 11 countries and 30 cities joined that meditation too.
This event was one of many such planned public events for France that express the public's desire for higher awareness of the greater good and to promote well-being and unity. From the first meeting with this organizer, Bro. François and Sr. Valériane felt the magic of drama at work so easily. The intended chat with 1–2 people morphed into a session with many people who expressed their interest in Baba's work for Climate Change including yogic farming. Sr. Jayanti prepared a special video for this event and a message from Dadi Janki was also shared during the 1-hour BK time on stage.
As we know, Baba says, "the dancer dances well when the audience is keen." This was so true for each moment of this process. Miracles were happening at every step in the planning and our confidence grew too, knowing that this no. 1 chance for unlimited seva with Baba's family in France had Baba's full support.
As this story closes now, without doubt Baba's hand was playing a part at every step in this spiritual adventure and the light and light visible from Baba's yogis on stage was precious to feel and see. The halo of Baba's wonders over the initial meetings with the organizers helped us keep the firm determination to make it all happen.
In the light of events this past week, we can also only say an extra big-hearted thanks to Baba for getting us ready ahead of time and for preparing the ground for special service from our hearts. We may not always know the fruits of our spiritual efforts, but we do know our first responsibility is to stay close to Baba and let him make music and magic through us, wherever we may be.
With love, BKs in France
Link where the video of our presence on stage is up http://www.24earth.org/fr/component/com_jusertube/Itemid,310/view,gridwithdescription/
Download the report here.
BKs at Om Yoga Show and Mind, Body, Soul Experience Alexandra Palace, London, UK
22 November 2015
London's largest annual show dedicated to Yoga and all things related to mind, body and soul moved venue this year from the traditional Olympia, West London venue, to Alexandra Palace in North London. This new venue provided a fabulously spacious and harmonious setting for this popular show: bringing together practitioners and enthusiasts of many types of hatha yoga as well as advocates of alternative living and healthy vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. Many complementary therapies for more holistic living were being demonstrated as well as spiritually seeking endeavours from various cultures. There were over 200 stalls and over 12 stages with workshop space as well as venues for talks off the main halls. The event was buzzing with people throughout and it was a wonderful place for Baba's service to take place
The two shows were held in adjacent halls within this royal and serene venue and the Brahma Kumaris held a central position between the two, in what was called the Tree of Life Meditation Area.
There was a large BK presence headed up by Brother Nishit Sharda and a dedicated team from BK Publications with many more also coming each day to help out in this wonderful opportunity to serve and point souls in the direction of The One. Baba's children were full of enthusiasm and tireless energy in the task, and the magic of easy cooperation was palpable.
There was a steady stream of open-minded and genuinely interested people visiting the BK exhibition space. There were various opportunities available for souls to discover their goodness including:
- A ‘tree of wishes' made of cane and ready for people to donate their good wishes on autumnal coloured leaf shaped pieces of paper which were then added to the tree. By Sunday evening this was an autumn sight in all its abundance! With thousands having hung their leaves of good wishes and hopes.
- A ‘wonder wall' which many young ones enjoyed adding images of peace and hopes for the future.
- An opportunity for people to explore their qualities and virtues by playing the ‘star card' game.
BK Publications shop was continually busy with many souls really wishing to engage with and find tools for learning to meditate: especially as they emerged from the taster sessions in the Meditation Marquee. Over 900 attended these sessions over the weekend.
The BK's presence extended to a second exhibition space and this time the Virtue Wheel captured the curiosity of many with continual queues. There was also interest in the Raj Yoga exhibition of pictures in the space behind, and many BK students shared and took souls through the basic tenets of Raj Yoga: Soul, Home, Supreme Soul and Spiritual Power.
BK's also contributed with running workshops and giving talks throughout the weekend.
Overall it was a great success and BKs left with the feeling that the tide is rapidly turning in our favour. More and more souls are looking for something deeper and more satisfying than the model of competition and consumerism that is currently so highly valued in our society.
Diwali at the House of Commons and Meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
22 November 2015
Jayminiben, Urvashiben and other BKs joined top politicians from all parties and VIPs from the Hindu community for the 14th Diwali celebration at the House of Commons.
Jayminiben recalls meeting opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn who was fascinated by her BK badge. And when he heard of the work of the BK locally, nationally and internationally, said, "Well, I must come and visit you; I'm not far away." His constituency is Islington North, a near neighbour of Global House in Willesden.
The event was co-sponsored by the Conservative MP Bob Blackman (Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus) and Labour MP The Rt Hon Keith Vaz). Other guests included High Commissioner of India, Ranjan Mathai, and some 80 parliamentarians, including MP Bob Blackman, MP Priti Patel, and Green Party leader MP Caroline Lucas.
MP Alison Thewliss from the Scottish National Party (her constituency is Glasgow Central) met the BK party with interest and will be connected with BK Centre in Glasgow. Special guest from Washington, Reverend Jesse Jackson gave an inspirational speech on the values of humanity.
Later, at Downing Street, Jayminiben had the opportunity – accompanied by MP Priti Patel - to meet Prime Minister David Cameron. "We took a tray of special Diwali sweets for him, and a copy of Dadi's centenary book "A Century of Service".
In a statement the Prime Minister acknowledged the Hindu community in Britain: "Whether it's in business, medicine, the voluntary sector, the police, the armed services, law or journalism, the contribution is huge – and greatly appreciated by the wider British public. I am delighted to wish you all a very peaceful and happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year".
Jayminiben explains that the BK connection is the culmination of 14 years of quiet behind-the-scenes organization of the now very popular "Diwali on the Square". "We were in on Day One," says Jayminiben, who is now on the Steering Group. "Now there is respect for our values and practice. We are appreciated for bringing spirituality, balance and good sense to the meetings."
"Diwali has become an excellent opportunity to connect with many influential individuals and community groups. For instance, when invited to Scotland Yard to join the Metropolitan Police's Diwali celebrations, the toli we gave was a great hit. The policemen wanted to know where we bought it as they had never tasted anything so delicious. We use the opportunity to share our understanding and Baba's message as well as the Diwali sweets."
Diwali celebrations have coincided with the much-anticipated visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UK. Highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the spectacular welcome at Wembley Stadium at which tens of thousands of people, almost all of Indian origin, came to see the Indian Prime Minister. Many people travelled from all over the UK for the event which saw Prime Minister David Cameron join Mr Modi on stage along with an array of Indian entertainers.
Jayminiben was invited to be present at the reception dinner held for Prime Minster Modiji, at which she was able to give him a toli box and a signed copy of Dadi's book. She says that their meeting was very cordial, with the Prime minister responding to the gifts with a delighted "Wah!" Jayminiben reported that he gave the impression of meeting someone he had not seen for a long time and was very happy to meet again…
Light Up Your House with Joy and Newness at Global Corporation House, London - Report of Diwali Programme
22 November 2015
The stage set with warm colours and lit deepaks, a beautiful dance opened the evening, performed by Mira Performing Arts duo with the narrative swaying between harmony and chaos.
MC Navin introduced the evening and invited everyone on the journey to experience Diwali. A skit highlighted the different interpretations of Sri Lakshmi's significance at Diwali and resolved with the understanding that it is time to emerge our own inner light at this time to create ‘Inner Wealth' as Lakshmi personifies.
A group of Brahma Kumari ‘shaktis' next performed a beautiful meditative dance with lit deepaks in their hands and to words spoken by Dadi Janki, explaining how the vices can be destroyed by taking power from the Supreme Soul, and how old accounts of karma can be finished with this inner light and new accounts of happiness created.
Sister Jayanti shared powerful words of wisdom on the story of Diwali and our story through time….
· There is a universal story that echoes through many myths, legend and memory….
· 5,000 years ago a world existed here on earth where peace reigned.
· This is remembered by different people with different names: paradise, utopia, satyug, dreamtime, heaven, golden age, garden of Allah, Zion etc all referencing a world of divinity that used to exist.
· A kingdom where there seemed to be no one giving orders, happening with perfect synchronicity.
· In this era, thought became reality and no one had to work hard to make anything happen.
· At that time, there was Diwali at each moment with continuous sharing of love, happiness and good wishes.
· Everyone's inner light shining within them and connecting with each other on this level was a constant way of life.
· This was the kingdom that God had created….and was the fruit of all the efforts made at some previous time. It doesn't just exist in story books or scriptures but actually existed on this earth, a time when divinity was expressed in a myriad of ways.
· Human being's words were filled with benevolence, love and pure goodness. What a big difference to people and the world of today, which seems to be so far away from heaven.
· How can it be possible to bring the light back again into the self? to let this inner light shine again? If it is our heart's desire to exist in this world with nothing but light shining all around then we can make it happen.
· Where there is motivation and interest we can do anything. When I change inside, the world around me begins to change…we see the ripple effects of this.
· What happened to the world that was paradise when everyone followed the laws of the universe in a very natural way and moved in perfect harmony within the community, society, land and all forms of life?
· How did we end up in the iron age? It was merely through the passing of time…from the golden age, through the silver age and then we lost energy, purity and power and came to a critical point when we had lost half of our strength and so our consciousness changed.
· In this period amnesia set in and we forgot who we were. We forgot we are souls and negativity started to come in this forgetfulness…from the copper age the story went on and is now recorded history and geography…..the golden age and silver age live on in our memory and myths…..the copper and iron age… the time of war and conflict is part of the story of humanity we know very well and has brought us to this time of darkness we find ourselves in now.
· Yet still the memory of divine beings lives on with us.
· Let a man perform such good actions that he can be called Narayan and let a worman imbibe such divine virtues that she is remembered as Sri Lakshmi. These inspirations come our way to tell us, yes it is possible.
· It states in the scriptures that it didn't take long for God to transform everyone.
· We are talking about our story…the story of the human soul and how it has gone through the cycle of birth and rebirth so that today we long for truth and we want to experience peace and we know things cannot go on like this any longer and change is coming.
· There has to come an end and a fresh beginning……the suffering of humanity in the last few centuries has been huge and yet the darkest hour becomes before the dawn.
· I believe that the dawn has started…The interest in wellbeing is to do with spirit and there is interest in becoming vegetarian….these are aspects of how I see the dawn breaking in human consciousness and light is coming into the world. There is an understanding that we need to come back to values and to virtue.
· We haven't been able to resolve the issues in the world because we haven't been looking at the issues of the heart. When we start addressing this change will happen…..light coming into this dark world.
· We are actually at the point of transition…in an age of preparation for the new world to begin again
· When we have a relationship with the Divine, through that relationship we begin to follow the laws of God in our life then together we can create that world.
· The most important thing is the cleansing of the heart…this means to develop constant good feelings….not just for a few but for absolutely every single person. I can decide to clean my heart so that truly I am able to invoke the divine virtues.The true wealth is surely the wealth of the virtues into my heart and life.
· Where there are negative feelings about anyone there cannot be humility, compassion and kindness.
· Aggression and ill feelings chase all goodness away. When I have cleanliness and light in my heart I have all the virtues.
· This is what our collective effort is today….with spiritual support for each other and guidance, might and light from the One above together we are able to finish negativity and heaven can come on earth.
· For heaven to come, we need to let go of ‘I and my'. Instead ‘you first …what can I do for you'….compassion, kindness and love in action.
· So the age of Ram Raj…the kingdom of God on Earth happens with a very simple transformation of ‘you first'…….
· When I came to the BK's I was finding answers to the questions to the questions I had…who am I and how can I make life purposeful and useful. Within a week I got the answers but yet it is a study that is ongoing because as we study spiritual knowledge each day the knowledge transforms the heart and this gives us a glimpse of the beauty of the human soul and what human life is about and how all of us together can create heaven together again
Sister Jayanti guided everyone with a meditation commentary to awaken the experience of The Being of Light who shares the light of Truth, love and purity and whose love heals the soul and removes all pain and sorrow so we awaken to our natural state of being of happiness
Diwali celebrations are never complete without candle lighting and Sister Jaymini invited many friends from Brent and Harrow to join Sister Jayanti, BK Trustee Mr Ratan Thadani and herself on stage to perform this ceremony. Many shared greetings for Diwali, including Councillor Muhamed Butt, leader of Brent Council, Mr Vijay Vesanta and Mr Samanth Goyle from the Indian High Commission; Mr Navinbhai Shah from the Mayor of London's office and many more.
Toli and blessings were shared with all.
Just This Day Invites YOU To Join In Wherever You Are
16 November 2015
Just this Day invites
to join in wherever you are
If you have access to a computer then connecting via live stream is easy, just
Link to the Granny blog to keep in touch
Valery Rees will introduce Dr David Horan and Mrs Laura Hyde at 10.30 am at St Martin-in-the-Fields. They will offer their own perspective on the question of what lies behind words and actions, why is it important and how we might access it. This will follow two remarkable women who will lead us in two different ways towards that space. Nikki Slade, whose kirtan chanting you will be able to join and Brahma Kumari Isabelle Gauthier who will lead us into a meditation.
Programme for the day at St Martin-in-the-Fields
? 3 minute silence will be held on the hour every hour.
? 9.30 am Nikki will start the chanting.
? 10.00 am after 3 minutes of silence, Isabelle will lead a meditation.
? 10.30 am Rev Katherine Hedderly will welcome us to St Martin.
? 10.35 am Valery Rees will introduce Dr David Horan and Mrs Laura Hyde.
? 11.00 am 3 minutes of silence led by Dr Horan
? 11.05 am Mrs Laura Hyde
? 11.35 am your questions
? 12.00 pm End
? 1.00 pm Choral Eucharist
? 16.30 pm Choral Evensong
? 18.00 pm Holy Communion in the Church This event is free but a collection will be taken for St Martin-in-the-Fields
6.30 pm. St James's Church, Piccadilly open for quiet
7.00 pm. Don Kipper performs
7.30 pm. Emily Johnston introduces the speakers
Jeremy Sinclair, Rosalind Wyatt and Dr Eve Poole.
When Eve Poole was once asked what her dream for society was , she answered "that we would all play our part and actively create the society we want, by making more and better decisions about where we invest and spend our time, money, energy and prayer".
Rosalind said "Ambition is a natural phenomenon of being human; it comes with the territory! Being 'spiritually' curious keeps my human ambition in check; the bigger perspective allows me to see ambition for what it is. It can be a helpful positive tool to motivate, focus and follow through my intentions and goals whilst seizing those opportunities which allow me to live creatively and grow. Nevertheless it has a darker side which can cloud my vision making me self centred and unaware of situations around me. At its extreme, ambition can corrupt and destroy."
What would you say? You can ask either of these two or Jeremy Sinclair whose career in advertising has meant that he has a particularly accurate understanding of ambition.
This event is free but donations on the night towards expenses will be encouraged!
Paris Update from Br Francois
14 November 2015
Dear Divine family,
The terrible news has gone around the globe: for the second time this year Paris has been the target of a terrorist attack. We all remember January; the French magazine "Charlie" became the theatre of violence and death.
Last night, in different places of the Capital, guns and bombs have killed 129 people. Scenes of war and bloodshed have shadowed the city of light.
Thanks to the Brahmin family, who instantly responded to that horrible event. We have received so many mails of support, good wishes, and blessings of courage that we have shared with BKs and our families.
The French population is in shock and deep emotion and we can so much appreciate Baba's gyan and Baba's help which makes the difference. We know and understand what causes injustice, crime, and violence.
Paris was absolutely calm today, under a high level of security. Some streets, metro stations and markets were closed. Like refugees, people stayed home watching TV and trying to find an answer to what has no logic.
It seems that drama is regularly preparing people for other scenes and slowly showing that the last illusions of kaliyuga can turn into a nightmare in a second.
In Baba's yaad,
Paris: News from the Paris BK Family in the Aftermath of Attacks
14 November 2015
To the divine family
Iit's a dreadful scene in our city and this morning Baba did remind us to be stable.
It's still early here and so far all Baba's children are safe.
Of course this morning half of the class was not present because the situation is on highest degree of vigilance.
We'll let you know more as the news is forthcoming.
in Baba's yaad