While fear and uncertainty looming over large part of Iraq, two Art of Living Faculty members Christoph Glaser and Mawahib Shaibani embarked on a mission. They began imparting leadership training and peace building initiatives to 35 Members of Parliament in Arbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.
The program was part of a long-term peace-mission of the Art of Living Foundation and it`s sister Organisation, the International Association for Human Values.
The parliamentarians experienced the Art of Living program and felt it is very useful at this time of highest tension, anger, hatred and confusion. “We are here from four different political parties in Kurdistan, but if we can talk and work together the way we are doing in this workshop, then we can solve all our problems”, the impressed participants shared.
The 3-day program concluded with a skype call with The Art of Living Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri said “Kurds being the 3rd party caught up in the conflict in Iraq, they can play a major role in turning around the situation”. The parliamentarians invited Sri Sri to Iraq to build bridges.
Back ground of work by Art of Living in Iraq
Since September 2003, The Art of Living has contributed to rebuilding war-torn Iraq. The aftermath of two wars led to civil violence, economic breakdown and infrastructural shortage. Understanding the needs of this humanitarian crisis, Sri Sri’s Iraq peace initiative has a two-pronged mission: providing stress relief and disaster management techniques to overcome personal stress and helping people pick up their lives through service initiatives.
On the invitation of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, prison programs were conducted in the country’s correctional homes. Thousands of hardcore criminals were given a vision of a pacific society. The Art of Living has proven that individual inner peace can be a powerful tool in resolving conflicts, and is spreading the message of peace and non-violence to Iraqis, through its specially tailored programs.
Experiences shared by participants
“This is one of the best courses we have done in our whole life!”
“We are all so happy that we have seen Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We feel that he is a nice person, a big person, this was a big chance for us to meet him.”
“Sri Sri should come to Kurdistan, we are waiting for him.”
“We know each other better, we are all together as one family. We laughed together, we joked together and we said nice things instead of saying all the bad things!
“If everybody in Iraq could do this, we would live in peace!”
“This course made us has a good relationship with each other.”
“Before we did not know each other, did not want to know each other personally. Now we trust each other”!
“Before this course we had not a good idea about the members of the different political parties. Now we all know that we have a goal we want to work for, we have a joint vision. And our whole goal to serve our people.”
“Now we feel more relaxed and more rested.”
“For the first time in 10 years I have been able to sleep properly. I want all my family to learn this. I want to practice this with my family!”
“We had so much trauma. And we were not able to sleep. Here we got very much rest. I feel very comfortable and sleep very well now.”
“Please we want to repeat these kind of courses for all our friends and families. They should participate in this course.”
“We were able to let go of our traumas. I thought I am the only one with such a trauma, but now I know we all have one.”
“We are from four different parties but if we can talk together like we are one, then the problems will be solved.”
“I want to teach my wife my family and children the breathing techniques. I want to practice with them. “
“We thought that we have the leadership capacities from birth or not at all. But now we realized than we can learn them.”
“We feel like a family now!”
“The whole parliament has to do this course and the Ministers should do it.”