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I Meditate NY, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Social Media

By • Apr 5th, 2011 • Category: Faith
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Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living will lead I-Meditate NY at Lincoln Center

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


I Meditate NY – It’s all about the Art of Living…

I-Phone, I-Pad, I-Meditate?

It was bound to happen! The practice of meditation may be thousands of years old but it is perfectly suited to our very stressful modern times, when in order to go fast, you have to learn to slow down. And the buzz of the moment is that the power of social media is being harnessed by a group of high achieving young professionals to get the word out about the value of meditation, and the upcoming I Meditate NY event, one of the largest meditation gatherings ever to be held in the Big Apple.

Over 2700 New Yorkers, from all walks of life and all religions, will come together to listen to and meditate with the renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who heads the Art of Living Foundation, with music by Grammy nominated Chandrika Tandon and world music band Bhakti. This unique event will be held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on April 10, and leading up to it are free meditation classes at the Art of Living Center in Manhattan, a chance to get a first-hand taste of meditation.

Why is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s presence drawing so many to the practice of meditation, especially young people who have everything from work to Wall Street to travel and social events vying for attention on their calendar? In fact, some of them have even taken a sabbatical from work to make IMeditate NY  a reality, using all forms of social media to get the word out.

We spoke with four young New York professionals on what draws them to meditation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and how they are spreading the cool factor of meditation through Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and special e-promotions, to reach other young people.

Parneet Gosal, a volunteer with I-Meditate NY which will bring spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Lincoln Center for a meditation for 2700 people.

Parneet Gosal, volunteer with I Meditate NY

Parneet Gosal is the quintessential New Yorker and a geekoid digital strategist who recently launched a Digital Strategy Consulting Firm, Seedwalker, after executing digital strategies at both start-ups and brands like American Express, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Shefali Aggrawal is a lawyer, who has decided to take a year off and volunteer as a full time teacher for the Art of living foundation.

Andjela Azabagic grew up in Bosnia, and came to the US in 1996. She graduated from Columbia University with a Masters in Biomedical Engineering/Imaging. She’s worked as a Global Business Development Manager in healthcare IT for TeraRecon, Inc since 2005.

Sherry Mukim works with start-up companies but is now volunteering for I Meditate NY and is working with a diverse team, pushing her own boundaries by taking up projects that she may not have done professionally.

I Meditate NY brings Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and meditation to New York. Sherry Mukim is one of the volunteers behind this grassroots movement

Sherry Mukim, one of the volunteers with I Meditate NY

Asked  as to why they had decided to take time off from work to devote themselves to the campaign, Parneet said that the concept behind I Meditate NY – recharge your life through meditation – literally changed her life in extraordinary ways.

“I’m like most New Yorkers, juggling multiple balls with a lifelong addiction to overachieving,” she said. “I also consider myself savvy and immune to transient fads. Late last year I attended a meditation class with my mother with the dual – albeit half-baked – goals of increasing my energy level and improving my mother’s long term health. I was by no means convinced that we would achieve either.”

She adds, “As it turns out, the class helped us with both goals…and then some. It was instrumental in my decision to launch Seedwalker and it helped my mom tremendously. I now work with I Meditate NY to help educate other New Yorkers just like me, who sometimes let misguided beliefs stop them from achieving their health goals.”

Indeed, meditation changes one’s very thinking. Shefali, who is a lawyer by profession, found this was a new way to help people. “I am inspired by the change which happens when people are at peace within themselves,” she says.

“I used to work with poverty-stricken and mentally ill clients for years and I realized that while giving legal advice was very important, I could help effectuate real change in their conditions.  By teaching people skills to manage their mind and emotions, they are able to push through big stressors in their life and reach their fuller potential.”

What is interesting is how the call to an ancient practice has drawn so many of the now generation. As Parneet explains,  the draw is working with extraordinary people who have demanding day jobs in major corporations and family obligations, yet take time to give back to the community through this movement.

“The thought of many more people benefiting from what Art of Living and Sri Sri’s teaching is what makes me want to give back,” says Andjela. “The social projects for the betterment of the humanity are very uplifting as well. We spend day-to-day working for salary. That gives no fulfillment. It may give satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment and success, but the inner fulfillment for me comes through giving and not expecting anything in return.”

For Shefali, it brings a feeling of being connected to herself, and to the people around her and also living with a sense of gratitude.

Shefali Aggrawal, a volunteer with I Meditate New York which will bring spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living to Lincoln Center for a meditation for 2700 people.

Shefali Aggrawal, a volunteer for I Meditate NY.

All four volunteers along with a devoted team hope this launch event will show New Yorkers a whole new path of meditation to stay focused and become more effective in all aspects of their lives.  Since this is a grassroots movement, they feel the future direction will be organic, dictated by the community. They hope to continue to do social media and outreach, and at the same time connect with people, one person at a time.

Andjela Azabagic, a volunteer with I Meditate New York which will bring spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living to Lincoln Center for a meditation for 2700 people.

Andjela Azabagic, a volunteer with I Meditate NY

Says Andjela: “The current plans are to make partnerships with many spiritual and yoga organizations in NYC as well as work on the outreach to the public through social media and direct involvement through meditation talks and seminars.”

And Sherry has the last word: “Spread the word on meditation! Tweet, tweet, tweet…about re-charging New Yorkers. (Do follow us on Twitter – @imeditateny). I also help coordinate free meditation sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Art of Living Center.”

Meditation and The Art of Living

Growing up, were you into spirituality and how has meditation helped you in your work and personal life?

Parneet: I’d hate to admit this in front of my mother, but I’m not a terribly religious or spiritual person. I’m agnostic. I believe strongly in my own abilities to overcome obstacles. That said, we all need a reinforcing mechanism. And I’ve found that second only to my family, meditation can be that mechanism for me.

Now that I’ve started practicing deep, rhythmic breathing as part of my meditation practice, I have no trouble falling asleep. I don’t need coffee anymore to energize and in fact have given it up altogether. I’m calmer, more grounded and more confident and achieve more at work. I feel more like the person I’ve always strived to be.

Shefali: I have always felt a connection to people around me and to nature, I’m not sure I thought of that as being spiritual, but I liked to be in touch with myself.  Meditation gave me the skills to really be in touch with my intuition, and at a practical level helped me balance a hectic schedule juggling home work and volunteer obligations.  Because I was more focused I could get things done in shorter periods of time.  In addition I have seen huge health benefits over the years.

.Meditation is an important aspect of my life helping me be more productive, focus better and deal with ever-increasing work-load along with managing projects and people more efficiently. After meditation, I feel very refreshed and enthusiastic. I can deal with stress better and save up energy for personal life. That is why I would like all New Yorkers to benefit from meditation and why I dedicated my time to the I Meditate NY campaign.

Andjela: Growing up I was not into spirituality.  In my personal life, meditation has made me more introspective and centered – in general a happier person. My family has seen a huge change in me, noting that I was a lot more engaged and present – rather than always thinking about work. Getting back ‘to my center’ helped me deal with situations as they came up and make quicker and more effective decisions that carried no regretful post-effects. It also freed me up from worrying about the future events. I became a lot more effective doing what I’m doing, and leaving work at work when it comes to spending time with family

Sherry: Growing up, I was always surrounded with people who were religious. I never understood why we should pray to God and yet, not open our hearts to help people consciously. The Art of Living powers numerous social and community projects and that is very appealing to me. Meditation helps me relax and de-stress. I have been meditating for a year and recently began tweeting (@imeditateny) about the benefits of meditation.

Meditation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Some Questions – and Some Answers

Why do you think meditation is so relevant to all people, irrespective of religion or nationality?

Parneet: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t wish to lead a healthy, energized and full life. I think culturally some people are more pre-disposed or more open to the idea of meditation but we are living in an age where we can harness technology to counter ignorance and increase awareness. Religion or nationality shouldn’t be a factor when we consider health and happiness. These are common goals shared by all.

Shefali: Religion and nationality are concepts that we have created, love, compassion kindness are values which are universal and belong to every citizen of the world.  Meditation allows us to relax and blossoms these human values which are actually our true nature.

Andjela: Because one’s centeredness, focus, awareness, compassion and joy that come of out meditation is a function of humanity, not of particular culture or religion. Spirituality brings you deeper in your religion, culture …. whatever it is that you’re practicing…..

Sherry: The Art of Living is in 150 plus countries and the global nature of the community makes it even more special….

The Power of Meditation & the Art of Living

Why do you think meditation is so relevant to all people, irrespective of religion or nationality?

Parneet: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t wish to lead a healthy, energized and full life. I think culturally some people are more pre-disposed or more open to the idea of meditation but we are living in an age where we can harness technology to counter ignorance and increase awareness. Religion or nationality shouldn’t be a factor when we consider health and happiness. These are common goals shared by all.

Shefali: Religion and nationality are concepts that we have created, love, compassion kindness are values which are universal and belong to every citizen of the world.  Meditation allows us to relax and blossoms these human values which are actually our true nature.

Andjela: Because one’s centeredness, focus, awareness, compassion and joy that come of out meditation is a function of humanity, not of particular culture or religion. Spirituality brings you deeper in your religion, culture …. whatever it is that you’re practicing…..

I Meditate NY

What’s one special feature of the upcoming IMeditate NY event that you’d like to tell readers about?

Parneet: It’s always about the people for me. If you’d like to feel more energized and more at peace with the world around you, in the company of other extraordinarily talented and giving New Yorkers, come join I Meditate NY.

Shefali: The launch event where the master of meditation will be leading people through a live meditation—the depth of a meditation when 2700 together become calm is indescribable.

Andjela: I Meditate NY is designed to reach out to all New Yorkers irrespective of one’s religion, ethnicity or cultural background. It is designed to raise people’s awareness about how to life fully and stress-free.

Sherry: Give meditation a shot! And, join us for the special evening of I Meditate NY at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, on April 10th. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is the master of meditation, will take you on a whole new journey.

For more details visit I Meditate New York

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is a New York based journalist who writes for several international publications. Twitter@lassiwithlavina See more articles from Lavina on
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