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Report: Sunlit Path Programme: Ladysmith

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Two hundred and eight learners (208) from the following schools in Ladysmith participated in our Sunlit Path Programme on Friday, 18 August at the Windsor Secondary School Hall: Windsor Secondary, Ladysmith Secondary, Steadville Secondary, Ladysmith High and Acaciavale Primary. The programme was designed by Swami Sahajananda to assist learners overcome drug addiction, alcoholism, depression and other social ills. At the end of the programme, 180 learners (86%) signed the pledge form to try to keep away from these social ills.

The programme covered the following aspects:

  • Overview of the programme
  • Inaugural message of 2006 from Swami Sahajananda
  • Self-control
  • TV. Drugs, Alcohol, etc.
  • Silent Sitting
  • Depression and Suicide
  • Value of Prayer, Health & Diet and Celibacy
  • Pledge Forms and checklist

Whilst this programme, like every other programme on drug addiction, strives to provide coping skills, the essential difference is that the Sunlit Path Programme is designed to urge all to turn to God for assistance, support, guidance and protection. Swami Sahajananda wrote, "If God, the Eternal Being is left out of the picture, lasting success is not possible. Whether it be in marriage, in the educational or in the political field, if He, the very basis and substance of all life is left out, how can the results be permanent, pure and uplifting?"

A unique feature in our programme is to encourage learners to practise the art of silent sitting. Sometimes life gets difficult. We know that many teenagers often feel stressed in their daily lives. Having to deal with exams, parents, peer pressure, applying to varsity, bullies or even just during regular break time can cause anxiety, anger, worry, low self-esteem and fear. These stressful emotions can be pretty dangerous, because they cloud our judgment, affect our quality of life and can eventually lead to physical illness. Some of the ways to cope with stress are prayer, laughter, breathing techniques, foot and hand massage, planning, a good night's sleep, choosing the right friends and exercise−all induce harmony in the body and enable us to perform well at school and interact well with our parents, friends, neighbours and relatives. In our programme we showed learners how to use breathing techniques in their lives. Taking deep breaths and doing breathing exercises may seem silly, but it has been scientifically proven to help relax the body and clear up thoughts and emotions clouding the mind. The world is so loud and chaotic. Absolute silence allows the brain to clear all the clutter and reboot itself. This lets you focus, remember, learn, cope and think better. So occasionally, just pause for a few minutes−be quiet−shut off all your electronic devices, sit in silence and allow your body and brain to recharge.

The organisers of the programme agree that certain presentations need to be adjusted to reach out to every single learner. Be that as it may, learners in the main, enjoyed the programme and we have no doubt that many will find the exposure beneficial. Here are some responses from learners:

The part I loved most is the part about how to deal with depression and difficulties and that difficulties are there to make you, not break you. I shall always remember the pneumonic PASTED (Prayer, Affirmations, Service, Television, Exercise and Divine).

What I heard was that the future is in my hands and prayer can help me overcome my fears.

I feel that I am going to follow everything (from the workshop) very carefully.

Violence, sex and crime on TV – these are going to affect me. There is no peace at home. Angels will appear when we watch good programmes on TV.

The programme helped me very much in concentration skills.

I will change my behaviour and believe in God. I will spend a lot of time on books and less time on TV.

I feel blessed and encouraged and I want the best for me.

Alcohol, Drugs and gambling is a sin and it will destroy our nation of tomorrow.

To fall pregnant at school is not right because it will destroy your future. You will become a drop out and you will have to take care of a child.

My health is very important and today I learnt a lot about health and I am look forward to following the steps for healthy living.

My feedback is to change the way I think and act and I will start doing exercises and spend more time in the evening with my family.

I want to go to Durban with my school, to the Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre to get more information to help us to study and to relax our minds.

You cannot change the world, but certainly you can change yourself.

I learnt that if God is with me, who will be against me.

Our sincere thanks to principals of the schools for allowing their charges to attend this workshop. Judging from the responses above, we feel that this workshop will bring about many life-changing experiences, resulting in improved academic performance and a solid moral foundation. Our heartfelt thanks to the Department of Education for allowing us to organise this workshop during school hours. We gratefully acknowledge the presence of two officials from the Department: Circuit Manager, Klipriver District, Mr Mangyane and Subject Advisor, Dr N. Balkaran. The attendance and participation of officials from the Department will augur well for our future Sunlit Path Programme. Special thanks to Windsor Secondary for hosting this event, for the free use of the hall and all its facilities. Our report will be incomplete if we do not express our deep gratitude to Ladysmith Secondary for undertaking to secure sponsors for breakfast, lunch and special gifts for the competition and for their great passion to attend to all details in respect of preparation of refreshments and meals and for the professional manner in which they served all participants.

We just received the following message from Mr A.N. Govender, Principal of Ladysmith Secondary:

"I greet you against the backdrop of your highly successful Divine Life Programme that was presented to the children of Ladysmith. It was indeed a red-letter day for Ladysmith and definitely an extraordinary day. Never were there so many brilliant and spiritually enlightened minds at one venue at the same time with a common purpose.
"A snap survey amongst my learners indicated that they enjoyed the programme, it was highly professional, they were enlightened and most of all it allowed them the opportunity to participate. They noted that the Divine Life is serious about the youth and their future. Many indicated that they needed more time and some brave learners stated that the programme showed clearly how they are wasting their lives.

"I trust the work done by the Divine Life Society will be supported by the schools and sustainable internal school programmes underpinned by the Sunlit Path teachings will be important for the desired outcome. Left to the learner alone is indeed a tall order.

"At Ladysmith Secondary, by the will of God we will develop a programme of action to capitalize on the innovative work done through your programme.

"It has been a pleasure to work with your team and I take it my school has delivered on its promises.
We take this opportunity to wish all officials, educators and learners every success in the programmes, projects and examinations. May God bless you!

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