BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Digital Touch Intl
Atlanta, GA, July 12, 2019: Decked in pleasant blue and white, warmth and harmony emanated from the Signature ballroom on June 2, 2019 at the HeartNotes 2019, HELP our Youth fundraiser, hosted by Heartfulness Meditation’s Atlanta center. The event featuring keynote address by Bollywood actress and Netflix fame Radhika Apte and stand-up act by actor/filmmaker Omi Vaidya a.k.a. Chatur of 3 Idiots fame, also showcased two signature programs, HELP (Heartfulness – Experience Life’s Potential) and BrighterMinds, developed by The Heartfulness Education Trust.
The fundraiser also featured a silent auction and several raffle drawings. The ballroom was filled with over 500 attendees, exceeding initial expectation of 300, and raised over 100K for the cause.
The event was anchored by Rajen Sheth and Neha Negandhi.
Community leaders, Dr. Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Emory University and Subhash Razdan from the Gandhi Foundation were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
A very intriguing display of the power of concentration that could potentially be developed through BrighterMinds, grabbed the attention of the audience, as 12-year old Lakshman read words and complete sentences written on a piece of paper by randomly picked members of the audience, solved the rubik’s cube and identified colors- all while blindfolded!
HeartNotes 2019 highlighted a concern less talked about amidst social circles – mental health issues, suicide among youth in particular, with a goal reduce suicide rates among the youth by providing HELP. HELP is an outreach program, teaches holistic coping / life-skills in a balanced way directly to students and teachers.
“We are fighting an invisible war,” said Sanjay Sehgal, Atlanta in charge of Heartfulness Meditation, speaking of the stress people face on a daily basis. Presenting suicide data from WHO, Sehgal said the number was 800, 000, more than the combined deaths in wars, murders and natural disasters. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among 15 -29 year-olds globally, he added.
Sehgal elaborated on how HELP can intervene. HELP is a 16-week certificate course that includes experiential Heartfulness-based meditation, and positive life-style habits such as nutrition, yoga and exercise, universal human values, and social responsibility.
“Pichle sau saal se, Heartfulness ne bharat main, duniya main, chamatkaar pe chamatkaar kiya hain. Aapko is chamatkaari organization ko apna dhan dena chahiye (Since the past 100 years, Hearfulness is performing wonders n India and across the world. You must donate for this wonderous organization),” said Vaidya blending humor with his pledge for the cause. Vaidya included some funny Bollywood anecdotes, the typical Indian-American approach to buying in bulk be it Costco or elsewhere, signing off with his signature salutation from 3 Idiots, only directed towards Heartfulness, “jahanpanah tussi great ho, tohfa qubool karo.”
The highlight of the event was Radhika Apte’s Q&A with Atlanta journalist Neha Negandhi.
“Failure is OK. Every individual has a choice at every moment. We just need to make the right choice. Even in the worst moment of my life, I can make a choose to be happy,” said Apte in her conversation with Negandhi. Apte also spoke about her brief battle with depression, underlining the importance of addressing mental issues along the same lines as physical fitness. Apte talked about her unconventional schooling which took away the focus from competition and validation from external parameters at a young age and stressed upon practical training and personal understanding instead.
The HELP program has been rolled out by over 2500 volunteers to well over 300,000 high school students in India across 1500 intermediate colleges with plans to scale this to over a million students across multiple states in the upcoming academic year. The intent is to roll it out in multiple countries including the US in a phased manner starting from neighborhood schools in Atlanta.
Brighter Minds, a training program designed for kids, based on extensive research on neuroplasticity and brain wave entrainment to explore the areas of intuition and sensory substitution/augmentation, aims to enhance their cognitive foundation elements such as focus, observation, comprehension, intuition, memory retention, empathy and confidence, amongst others. Brighter Minds spans across 13 countries with more than 500 learning centers, 800 trainers and 15000 children trained.
With a goal to smoothen transition to adulthood in the right way, with the right life skills, as Sehgal put it, Hearftfulness Institute has partnered with various state governments to roll out the HELP program. To learn more, you may visit https://heartfulness.org/us/