We are delighted to report that the workshop held on Friday, 16 February at the Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre in Arena Park, Chatsworth was a success. Out of the 96 learners from Woodhurst, Crossmoor and Meadowlands Secondary Schools, 87 learners (90%) signed the pledge form voluntarily, to try to keep away from the social ills of drug addiction, alcoholism, violence, depression, suicidal tendencies, teenage pregnancies, etc.
During the session on evaluation, learners gave us the following feedback:
- The Programme made me think about how to trust in God and to pray everyday and good things will happen.
- I have learnt that staying calm is an important factor in life. A healthy diet helps us to keep fit and helps us to stay energised. God is always there when we are in need. God comes in all forms.
- I really like to come again to the Sunlit Path Centre.
- I learnt that I should not join bad company and not to do wrong to others.
- Never try to commit suicide. And, never stop chanting God's Name. Always know that God is with you all the time.
- I have learnt a lot from this workshop. It helped me with my inner peace, especially the silent sitting and talking to the facilitator.
- Without God we cannot be who we really are. If we serve God, we will be a better person.
- The programme taught me not to watch violent programmes on TV as it affects our lives.
The Inaugural message, written by Sri Swami Sahajananda in 2006, was read out by one of our young devotees. We reproduce a few lines from that message, "I learnt a great lesson from my suffering. It was that none can escape the working of the great Law of Cause and Effect that governs the operation of the whole universe. If all get a good grasp and understanding of the operation of this unrelenting Law of God, they can purify the mind and overcome their sufferings and problems."
The heart of the Sunlit Path Programme is signing the pledge form to try to keep away from these social ills and the filling in of the Sunlit Path Checklist, daily. In a well-structured and motivational presentation, great emphasis was laid on character building and the role it will play in the success of an individual. Effective use was made of a power-point presentation to share the following thoughts: A man without character is dead; knowledge is important but character is even more important; the Sunlit Path Checklist has the power to transform you to a person of exemplary character; identify your weaknesses, be honest, brutally honest; create your own checklist based on your strengths and weaknesses; the only person you can change in this world is yourself; you must have the determination to be a good person, then only will you succeed. The entire process of filling in the Checklist daily was explained in detail.
In keeping with our programme to strive for inner peace, we had an effective short session on silent sitting where learners had first-hand experience of the power of silence. Silence allows the brain to clear all the clutter and reboot itself. It allows the learner to focus, remember, learn, cope and think better. It is through the observance of silence that one can build immense inner strength. This is what learners heard in this session. And, judging from their responses in the session on evaluation, learners benefited much.
The following three sketches carried the primary message of the Sunlit Path Programme:
- TV, Drugs, Alcohol, etc.
- Depression & suicide
- Prayer, Health & Diet, Celibacy and Foot Massage
In an attempt to sustain the attention of learners and to effectively drive home the above messages, The Sunlit Path Committee requested that participants enact their parts and not merely read them as they did in the past. It was observed that previously many learners lost interest in the readings after a few minutes. At this workshop, they were focussed and seem to have understood and enjoyed these presentations. All our participants excelled in these presentations. We are happy to say that these sketches were a great success.
As usual, discussions during the breakaway sessions were lively and many profound thoughts were shared. We heard the following thoughts during the report back session:
- Jesus, I am Thy child. Please protect me.
- If we eat good food, we will have energy. If we eat junk food we will become restless and tired.
- In an impromptu presentation, Theola Naidoo of Meadowlands Secondary spoke eloquently about the presence of God. "Wherever we are, many of us feel that God is not present there. But He is always with us. Do we take the time off to show our appreciation for what He has done for us?" About pregnancy, she said, "You can't get your life back if you fall pregnant at school. You can't go out with your friends and enjoy those things."
The programme concluded on a high and light-hearted note as learners sang the song, "No Harm will come to you", which highlighted the Sunlit Path motto: God is my Guide. In the song, learners were encouraged to call for God, by whatever Name they know Him, and no harm will come to them.
We express our thanks to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Sahajananda, through whose Grace this function was possible. Our gratitude to the Sunlit Path team of Chatsworth for preparing and serving refreshments and lunch. We thank the management of the respective schools for allowing their charges to attend this workshop. And, finally our sincere thanks to the KZN Education Department for granting permission for us to organise this workshop during school hours.