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The Art of Living Ashram

The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization (NGO). It was founded in 1981 by Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living Foundation has centers in more than 156 countries. The Foundation is working in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The International Association for Human Values is a partner NGO that Shankar founded, that focuses on the upliftment of human values at the grassroots level. Art of Living Foundation (AOL) has its international headquarters in Bangalore, India at Ved Vignan Mahavidyapeeth or VVM campus (usually referred to as The Art of Living International Center or the Bangalore Ashram) and has regional centers in more than 150 countries. In Europe, the organization is known as the Association for Inner Growth. The Foundation was founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and offers a variety of personal-development and trauma-relief programs around the world. AOL has been an educational and humanitarian organization in the U.S. since 1989. Accredited as a United Nations non-governmental organization in 1996, it works in special consultative status with the UN's Economic and Social Council, participating in a variety of committees and activities relating to health, education, sustainable development, conflict resolution, and disaster relief. The Art of Living is a DPI NGO (Department of Public Information), which means it plays an active role in communicating and contributing to various United Nations goals (such as the UN Millennium Goals and the Stand Up initiative). The majority of the officers of the organization, along with most of its teachers and staff, are volunteers. Many humanitarian programs, disaster relief efforts, and training programs are conducted through, or in conjunction with partner organization, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV). Some of the key worldwide chapters include the Art of Living Foundation (U.S.A.), Vyakti Vikas Kendra (India), Die Kunst des Lebens (Germany), Art of Living Center (Canada), Art of Living South Africa, Art of Living Israel, Art of Living Brazil, and Art of Living Argentina. The Foundation operates as a charitable organization actively conducting "Art of Living" stress-relief courses, based on yoga, breathing, and meditation. Guided by Sri Sri’s philosophy of peace, "Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace", the Art of Living offers several stress-elimination and self-development programmes based mainly on breathing techniques, meditation and yoga. Art of living hopeline, a telephonic hotline available 24/7, is a dedicated program to reduce suicidal tendencies. A number of medical studies on the organization's core life-enhancing/trauma-relief techniques (Sudarshan Kriya and its preparatory practices) have been published in international peer-reviewed journals. A range of mental and physical benefits are reported in these studies, including reduced levels of stress (reduced cortisol—the "stress" hormone), improved immune system, relief from anxiety & depression and increased antioxidant protection, enhanced brain function (increased mental focus, calmness and recovery from stressful stimuli), among other findings. The organization is involved in community service through its centres, and programs are taken by people of many traditions and religious backgrounds. Its underlying principles are compatible with Vedic philosophy. In March 2014, the organization's yoga center in Islamabad, Pakistan was burned down followed by reports of threats issued to the organization by Taliban. The Art of Living has entered the Guinness Book of Records for a Mohiniyattam dance organised in Cochin The performance has been awarded the world record for the most people performing a Mohiniyattam dance, the traditional Kerala dance form. The organization organized a sitar concert "Brahm Naad" which also entered Guinness Book of Records. The proceeds of the event went towards rehabilitation of the victims of the Bihar floods. "Taal Ninaad" held on 17 January 2012 at Solapur, which included 1230 tablas and 318 pakhavaj also entered the Guinness Book of Records. On 16 May 2012, The Art of Living Foundation, organized a cultural evening in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, where 333 Bulgarian bagpipers played a 9.13 minutes suite. The youngest player was 9 years old and the oldest player was 80 years old. Mass recital of Jnanappana, a devotional poem written by the 16th century Malayalam poet Poonthanam, organized by the foundation on 2 February 2014, has also found place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

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