In what is telling about the universality of Indian spiritual techniques in mind training, 400 members of the Peshmerga forces, who took on the ISIS in Iraq, underwent The Art of Living programme. In the programme, they were trained in deep breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya (a powerful rhythmic breathing technique cognized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, practised by over 450 million people world over), pranayamas and Yoga along with other life tools to handle the mind, enhance clarity, calmness, and alertness.
"We got permission from Brigadier Ramadan Shily to enter the Peshmerga platoon to train them in the Happiness Program," said Mawahib Shaibani, Country Director of International Association for Human Values, sister concern of The Art of Living, Iraq, who has received her training in trauma and stress relief workshops and rehabilitation at the Art of Living International Center in Bengaluru.
"They reported amazing experiences of feeling peace even though they are in the midst of a conflict zone. They felt happy and well rested by the end of the training. Some of them want to become trainers now, to be able to share this transformative knowledge," Mawahib said.
The 400 Peshmerga forces personnel being trained, secure the border area in Suhaila between Syria, Turkey and Northern Iraq (Kurdistan).
This is not the first time the Bengaluru-based NGO has had rehabilitative engagement in the region. The organization has been working actively with the genocide facing the Yezidi community. In 2014, Sri Sri was one of the very few global leaders to draw attention to the Yezidi genocide and send help, rescuing and rehabilitating almost 2,500 Yezidi women captured by ISIS.
The Art of Living previously facilitated a Community Leadership Training Program (CLTP) and Life Skills and Resilience-Building program was taught to 500 community members, reaching women and girls who were survivors of violence, raising their awareness of local resources.
In Iraq, 50,000 people have undergone life skills and trauma relief programs facilitated by the organisation. Over 6,000 Iraqi women have been provided with vocational training. More than 200 peace ambassadors have been trained to provide trauma relief to those affected.
More than 1,50,000 war survivors, including child soldiers in Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, have benefited from trauma relief programmes.