With celebrities like Kate Perry, Hugh Jackman – or our own Rachel Hunter declaring the value of meditation over the last 18 months, it’s a little wonder New Zealand has recently seen an upsurge in interest in meditation in recent times. 

But visiting meditation-teacher and humanitarian Swami Sadyojathah from the Art of Living Foundation, the world’s second largest NGO, has a background that might come as a surprise. 

Over 20 years, “Swamiji” has trained tens of thousands of people in over 40 countries including New Zealand. April 15-23 this year marks his first visit to New Zealand in 15 years.

Swamiji’s background, however, was not from a hut at the foothills of the Himalayas. He is a member of the Royal Family of Kerala (The southern-most state of India with a population roughly as big as Canada’s). Yet he gave up the comforts of a royal life to lead a nomadic life travelling serving humanity. 

In 2004 when the tsunami hit India’s southern coast Swamiji was at the spot within a few hours, distributing essentials like food and water. Swamiji and his team stayed on for many months, helping people come out of trauma through teaching breathing techniques. “Even if one builds a home, there is no point if one is not able to sleep in it. But people were able to come out of their trauma with just a few minutes of breathing.” Says Swamiji 

In New Zealand, these same breathing techniques have already been used after the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, where the Art of Living conducted free courses for over 1000 people who had suffered during the quake. The course was reported to have a 90%+ efficacy in reducing stress and helping people sleep through the night again. 

Another of Swamiji’s assignments high-profile assignments was when the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa asked Swamiji to conduct trauma relief for their National Cricket team after the 2009 terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan. 

According to Swamiji in an interview with ABC radio in Australia recently, breathing and meditation techniques is not only for celebrities or people who have experienced trauma “Anyone can benefit from it, through less stress, and greater ability to handle the pressures of modern living.” 

Swamiji will be giving a free public talk on Monday 23rd April at Alexandra Park, Epsom,Time 7-9 pm. He will be sharing why he gave up his former life to travel the world teaching meditation and conducting volunteer work, and how all New Zealanders can use these techniques to gain greater calm during a storm. 

Additional background on Swami Sadyojathah 

Swamiji is a senior faculty of the Art of Living Breathing Programs which helps in coping with the stresses of daily life. He has been instrumental in setting up of Foundation’s activities in South-East Asia, Russia, Korea, Mongolia and Japan. Swamiji is the director of The Sri Sri College's Science and Research centre into traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) 

Entry to the public talk is FREE. Registration for the talk: www.goo.gl/S8L1ff 

For more information contact Nirmala D’Souza, Art of Living Foundation: 021 269 5364.