By Prashant Golecha
The new independent reiki alliance (NIRA), a multiversity dedicated to raising human consciousness, prefers to charge ‘time’ instead of money
In a world of commercialisation where even courses and workshops for spiritual growth come at a price, NIRA holds a surprise. This multiversity in Mumbai does not believe in charging you money for its services, preferring instead to ask you for your ‘time’.
Set up in 1996, Neo Independent Reiki Alliance, in the words of one of its founder members Hiralal Dihenkar, is “An institution for practical training in all aspects of life, starting with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and embracing the social, financial, professional and other aspects.” He adds, “ We believe in a scientifically designed practical approach leading to the application of the teaching in everyday life.”
NIRA was born when Dihenkar, an advocate and keen student of techniques to uplift human consciousness came in touch with other like-minded people, well established in their respective careers, but looking to make a difference in society. Today, besides Dihenkar, the NIRA team includes industrialist Rajendra Wadia, software professional Vijay Jaisingh, fashion designer Mridula Nair, homoeopath Dr Jasmine Keswani, techie Mayank Makwana, naturopath Dr Zarana Doshi, retired teacher Aruna Kothari, photographer, choreographer and web designer Pradeep Advirkar, and Swati Hadkar, a Reiki Grandmaster.
Explains Mayank, “All of us were already doing social work in our individual capacities when we met. Realising that most self-improvement courses offered theoretical knowledge, we wanted something where the effects could be sustained even after the initial euphoria was over.”
The result: an array of over 90 courses to enable seekers to come to grips with existential issues, covering living as well as dying, and imparting an understanding of aspects such as health, relationships, power, money, knowledge, love, understanding, expression, creativity, determination, will and the Higher Self.
Mridula explains how awareness, rather than meditation, is sought to be made a part of everyday life. “Instead of just advocating specific techniques, we teach people to see each routine activity such as walking, talking, cooking, eating, etc, as meditation,” she explains. Mayank elaborates, “Instead of focusing on individual aspects of life only, we aim to make the individual aware of the underlying life force. Once you access this you can put it to any use. It’s like using electricity to run any gadget you wish.”
Way of working
The organisation holds frequent two- to three-day basic or five-, seven- or 10-day advanced residential seminars. “There are no course fees, though after completion, we do appeal to participants to donate in any way they can. Any donations, in cash or kind, even some skill or seva, are welcome as they help us continue to run the show,” explains Mayank.
The rationale behind keeping the courses almost completely free? “In return for the quality it brings in their lives, we want something of value from the participants. For many, especially in Mumbai, money is easy to spare, but time, being so precious, is what we demand. Our courses start at six in the morning, and run over the weekend. Just the willingness to devote this time is the first step of their commitment to uplift themselves,” says Dihenkar, adding that strict discipline is demanded. Late-comers are not entertained and talking during sessions is forbidden. “It is for your own benefit as real freedom can be enjoyed only if there is discipline,” he adds paternally.
Adds Mridula, “Sometimes people wanting to do the course may not have the financial resources. NIRA is an opportunity for people to sit together and share resources, knowledge or whatever. Thus, learning is through sharing rather than buying and selling. Everything need not have a monetary basis.”
A feeling shared by all ‘volunteers’ is that there is no question of compensation. “How can we commercialise NIRA when we are not giving anything, just helping you uncover your own potential,” asks Dihenkar. Echoes Mridula, “ Helping others see light, we are actually working on ourselves and so there is no obligation.”
Adds Mayank, “By increasing our efficiency, NIRA actually helps us in our own respective fields.” But surely volunteering for NIRA would entail some sacrifice to their professional life? “Actually, it isn’t one profession any longer,” feels Dr Zarana. “Involvement in NIRA means that we actually have more then one profession now.” Dr Jasmine reveals that the two in fact support each other. And Dihenkar reveals how the feeling of freshness and vitality he experiences, even after a gruelling course session, is a rare gift of his involvement with NIRA.
Sixty basic workshops
NIRA’s basic two-day workshop, which I attended, is called Awareness Reiki Camp (ARC). Held on weekends from 6 a.m to 6.p.m, it is open to all people older than 15. Candidates are enrolled for the workshop after interviews, following a brief introductory session.
Basic instructions were followed by dynamic meditation to encourage us to let go. Silence is crucial; any questions have to be written on paper and are answered by the instructor only after each meditation. A small break around 11.30 a.m for the special NIRA lime drink and biscuits was followed by lunch at 1.30. We learnt to eat with awareness, relishing the tasty food.
Post-lunch, we did Reiki meditation. The next day began with the cathartic effects of dynamic meditation along with loud music. The laughing, crying, gibberish and silence meditations that followed were unique.
Under disciplined silence, the participant undergoes various cleansing processes through meditation, body purification exercises, body-mind relaxation techniques, stress and time management, food awareness and diet control training, self-healing, and mind control. Learning to view everyday routine as meditation, a special flexibility graces the seeker, enabling him to adapt to new situations and handle circumstances and conditions.
The specially prepared food free of spices and stimulants, is just one part of an approach towards eating that redefines our re-lationship with food. Follow-up sessions are held and when ready, participants move on to advanced courses. Doing the course made me more positive; I felt as if someone had cleansed my mind and heart. I repeated the workshop twice when I was feeling low and stressed-out, and I was impressed enough to donate some clothes and books.
During an interactive session for sharing experiences, a senior citizen from Delhi, here on her daughter’s insistence, revealed that the course had given her a new lease of life. Suchita Solanki, a psychoanalyst from South Africa, said, “The psychoanalyst herself received psychotherapy.” A.S. Sethi, who attended the workshop in 2001 said, “I had learnt Reiki earlier, but the way it is taught here touched my soul. The art of living, ‘NIRA style’, is logical and well-explained and should be spread all over the world.” Another sadhak, Falguni Shah, who has repeated many workshops, felt, “It is making life more and more ‘intentional’ rather than accidental.”
ARC apart, there are over 60 semi-residential and residential transformative courses in the NIRA curriculum. These include Sanskar – a one-day workshop for children aged 7 to 14 years; Diksha – a two-day youth special workshop; Mukti –a two-day workshop for women; Manthan – a two-day workshop for senior citizens; Healthy Healing – a basic 2/3-day seminar; Quantum Healing – on healing; Niryoga – on Yoga and Jivan Lakshya – exclusively for the explorers of life.
Everything can’t be just ‘taught’ to children; experiences need to be impressed into their mind, which in turn help design their lives. During the Bal Sanskar workshop, ‘impressions’ are offered to the child, aimed at transformation by shaping his vibrant energies into appropriate form and direction. Recently this value-building workshop was held for the children of the staff of L&T.
Helping and getting help
Mukti imparts training to women on the art of relating, cooking, parenting, self-expression, self-control, confidence, and how to lead a harmonious and independent life.
Workshops apart, NIRA is involved in many other service activities. These include providing resources to the poor and handicapped to make them independent, organising medical aid for needy patients, holding free food camps for slum children, providing computer education to women at concessional rates to make them independent and self- reliant, holding medical camps for senior citizens and organising de-addiction camps. NIRA is also involved in releasing birds and animals from slaughterhouses, collecting and redistribution of clothing for the needy, nursing mentally undeveloped persons, training women in preparing satvic food and receiving donations in cash or kind to meet needs for conducting these activities.
Many charitable trusts such as Giants International, Lions Club, Rotary Club, schools, colleges, and mandals, have provided free space and facilities for conducting various courses.
Popular film star and MP, Govinda has assured support for the Meditation Camp and seminar organised by them. After almost eight years of holding workshops at donated locations, NIRA also intends to construct a permanent structure to be their main operating centre.
Says Hiralal Dihenkar, “Most of us pass through life without understanding it, half of us attempt to scrutinise it, only a handful truly realise the ultimate Truth and the very purpose of our lives. It was only when I joined the foundation team of NIRA almost eight years back that I felt I had found what I sought. It has brought a transformation in me and given me immense peace.”
I asked Mridula about the motivation for her work with NIRA. “ Firstly I get mental peace, which helps me cope with stress, especially in the course of my professional work. Secondly, it is the opportunity to serve others, because we are so used to thinking in terms of only ourselves. NIRA has helped me grow by teaching me the joy of giving and serving,” she explained. Jasmine and Mridula, both active sadhaks in spite of their busy professional schedules, probably speak for the whole NIRA family when they say, “Come to NIRA and avail of the fruit of peace and happiness. Words are not enough, you have to experience it to understand its impact on our lives.”
Basic courses like the ARC are regularly held every month.
Contact: http://nira.way.to Ph: (022) 388873009820969895.
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How can we commercialise NIRA when we are not giving anything, just helping you uncover your own potential? Hiralal Dihenkar, A founder member