The Art of Living Foundation is hosting its seventh annual International Women’s Conference, April 5 & 6, 2015 on the beautiful island of, Bali, Indonesia. The conference will focus on ethical leadership and environmental issues including the extinction faced by the honeybee.
Every summer, as soon the first morning sunlight makes its way through the window, I’m out the door to see what grew overnight in my organic vegetable garden. Like a mother who beams with pride at her baby’s first anything, I find immense joy at the smallest hint of growth. It’s all exciting– from a tiny green tomato blossom to a full patch of pumpkins.
To rid the garden of plant-killing insects, once a season, my neighbors and I gather at sunset for the annual, “releasing of the lady bugs.” Hundreds of ladybugs are set free to happily gobble up all the aphids and fly away to their next destination. There is something almost sacred about the silent ritual.
However, last summer, it seemed that no matter what we did, our garden wasn’t growing. I spoke with master gardeners and read every article I could find to figure out the problem. No one had the answer, until one morning, it just hit me. I had hardly seen a honeybee for months.
The few, who were pollinating, moved so slowly from plant to plant, I wondered if they had caught a buzz from the “other green herb” that Denver, Colorado, is known for!
I did some research and soon discovered that the honeybee, which has sustained food agriculture for 4,500 years, is facing extinction. This alarming fact concerns all of us. Honeybees pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have, among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers along with a wide variety of fruits. The honeybee is responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the world food supply.
Scientists worldwide agree the honeybee is dying from a variety of factors – the two most prominent causes appear to be pesticides and habitat loss.
Consequently, I was very pleased to learn that the Art of Living Foundation will highlight the dangers of honeybee extinction at its International Women’s Conference (IWC) April 5&6, 2015, in Bali, Indonesia.
The biennial conference, initiated by Bhanumathi Narasimhan, in 2004, is an innovative venture that brings together inspirational women leaders from all corners of the world. It fosters meaningful dialogue on how to collectively amplify the message of peace, human values, and women’s leadership in service to society. IWC’s worldwide delegates represent every facet of society, from rural villagers to celebrities, leaders of industry, social activists and dignitaries.
Along with its focus on the plight of the honeybee this year, IWC supports multiple humanitarian initiatives, including: girl child education, vocational training, female prisoner rehabilitation, poverty eradication, female health awareness, eradication of female foeticide, environmental conservation, and domestic violence awareness.
In addition to plenary sessions and cultural performances, the conference integrates unique leadership development modules based on the principles of the Art of Living Foundation’s self-development programs. It also provides ample time to enjoy a variety of relaxation and spiritual renewal sessions.
The theme of this year’s conference, The Butterfly Effect – Everything Matters, refers to the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory. Bhanumathi supports the theory, that everything we do, or don’t do, impacts others. During a recent interview, she drew a comparison between the butterfly and our individual and collective potential to impact society for the better:
“In the same way that a small butterfly flapping its wings has an impact on the path of a enormous hurricane, a simple homemaker has the potential to positively transform her family, and consequently, all of society around her. It’s imperative that we draw attention to the honeybee crisis during this conference; we’re all responsible to do our part. Every living being has an impact on the lives of those around them. No one can exist in total isolation.”
In addition to being the founder and chairperson of the IWC, Bhanumathi is also the Director of the Art of Living Foundation’s International Women and Child welfare programs and Director of the foundation’s worldwide meditation programs. She holds a Masters degree in Sanskrit, regularly travels the world teaching meditation and is an international recording vocalist of divine hymns. Bhanumathi was awarded the Government of India’s prestigious Sadguru Gnanananda National Award, in 2007, for her excellence in social work across India.
It’s hard to believe such a dynamic global leader with an incredibly youthful presence recently became a grandmother, as well! Like a healthy honeybee, Bhanumathi buzz’s along in life with unbounded energy and an everlasting smile. One of the main ingredients to her success seems to be a daily meditation practice, twice a day.
Meditation is key to getting rid of our own internal weeds, such as: fear, doubt, anxiety and anger, in order to let the light in.
Today, you can find a plethora of research on the benefits of meditation with just one click. Yet only reading about meditation, is like reading about swimming and never jumping into the pool. You just have to dive in to experience it.
One of my favorite guided meditations is “Sound to Silence”, led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The renowned spiritual leader and social reformer, also happens to be Bhanumathi’s brother.
Famous American vocalist and composer, Bobby McFerrin’s hit song in the 1980’s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” comes to mind as this article comes to a close. Interesting to note, the song was inspired by Indian mystic and sage, Meher Baba (1894-1969), who often used the phrase in correspondence with his followers in the West.
The wisdom for living a happy and healthy life, where we care for the planet and one another is a timeless and universal message.
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