During the 9th Thessaloniki International Book Fair, on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 11.00am-12.00pm, Garuda Hellas presented a talk on "Yoga: a tool to transform difficulties into opportunities." Guest speaker for the event was Ms Louiza Voutsina, (Swami Bhajanananda), a graduate of the University of Sussex in England (BSc in Physics and Philosophy of Science) and highly experienced yoga teacher. There was a large turnout at the event and the public showed great interest in the subject. Swami Bhajanananda focused on facing difficulties in life in a positive and constructive manner, with the help of yoga.
Initially, reference was made to four kinds of difficulties that a person might face: a) personal pain that is related to our psychology and our emotional nature (tension, phobias, anxiety, depression), b) social pain associated with our interpersonal relationships and negative feelings that may arise there from, c) difficulties that are caused by nature (natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, etc.), situations that are beyond the individual’s and that could have a negative impact, and d) spiritual pain, the deep pain a person feels being separate from the source. The deep urge to "know Thyself" and overcome that constant inward feeling of emptiness, that something is missing, because one operates from the ‘circumference’ and not from the ‘center’.
According to yoga, these difficulties which present themselves in the life of every individual are actually opportunities for development, because in order to overcome them, one needs to use skills and strength they were not even aware of before. Difficulties are challenges for the mind and they make it stronger. Also, in times of crisis, one’s values are tested and one is called to review and re-prioritize things in their life.
In order to deal with difficult situations with a positive attitude, a person needs to possess a strong mind and evolve internally. The science of yoga provides the tools to achieve this. Firstly, balance and peace of mind are key requirements. Through a series of yogic practices, mainly physical exercises (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama) and relaxation techniques (Yoga Nidra), one can improve their physical fitness, strengthen the nervous system and calm the mind. The next step is to focus the mind on one point (dharana). According to yoga, a strong mind is one that can focus on a thought without being distracted by other thoughts. A person who has developed such a mind takes a decision and executs it, is stable, reliable and has the power to realize his ideas. Another important point is for one to adopt a simple lifestyle and be in contact with people who one considers to have developed such a mind and be inspired by them.
In closing, reference was made to the main yoga books, which people can refer to, for further information and practices regarding this subject.