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MANILA, Philippines - There's an oasis of peace amid the madding crowd of Manila.
Welcome to Inner Space Manila, a meditation school along Orosa St., Ermita. Students, professionals and blue collar workers around the university belt frequent this place for a different kind of "chilling out."
Upon entrance, you will be met by a blue-hued mural depicting the symbols of the world's major religions, with richly-textured Van Gogh-ish swirls leading to a single point of light at the center of the meditation hall.
It is in this hall that courses such as the “Soul Awake Series” on Wednesday evenings, “Silence of the Mind” on Mondays, and various other topics that tackle the methods and benefits of positive self-change are offered.
Another regular is called “World Meditation Hour” every 3rd Sunday of the month where the public is invited to spend an hour of guided meditation with reflective activities – ways of serving the world by allowing people to consciously generate thoughts and feelings of peace for the world.
But their main course offering is Raja Yoga meditation, described as “the king of all yogas.” It does not involve any physical exercises but instead involve mental and spiritual awareness to harness a sense of well-being and balance in all aspects of one's personality. The Raja Yoga course is composed of 3 levels — beginner, intermediate and advanced — and offered as a free service to the community.
Inner Space started in July 12, 2001 as one of the branches of Brahma Kumaris (BK), an international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. BK aims to share the practice of spiritual empowerment through values and self-awareness. Inner Space is one of the 11 branches of the Brahma Kumaris in the Philippines, and one among its 8,500 centers in 110 countries worldwide. Every BK center is run entirely by volunteers who have taken benefit from the lessons offered by the school.
Inner Space centers are also found in key cities in the UK, among them London, Covent Garden, Cambridge, Oxford and Glasgow. The specialty of every Inner Space is in providing a purposeful chill-out space for busy people in urban areas, offering free courses and lectures, a quiet room and a book shop.
One of its senior volunteers is Lucila Perez, an 82-year-old behavioral facilitator and Raja Yogi, and founding coordinator of Inner Space Manila.
She shares its beginnings: “We built Inner Space as a response to a challenge for me to serve my roots. I was born and raised in Manila. We were fortunate to have 3 friends working on the concept of a place that can provide a place of peace: the late Antonio Santos, an ad-communications professional; Vi Santos, an architect and interior designer; and myself. We were of varied personalities but managed to work out our differences quite well.”
Among the groups that Inner Space has served are Philippine Normal University, Messy Bessy/House Foundation, UP Manila and Diliman students, CEU students, and Asian Social Institute students and professors.
Perez adds, “The magic of Inner Space was the emergence of very good resource persons from among the young and upcoming Raja Yoga students.”
The current Inner Space is run by young professionals who volunteer their time and skills to run the programs. Among them are Anne Hortelano, a school principal; Abby Percela, a Department of Tourism officer; and Agnes Roque, a school teacher. Another volunteer Raja Yogi of note is Marivic Arevalo, a businesswoman who travels all the way from her town of Dasmarinas, Cavite just to offer her time and presence in Inner Space programs.
Arevalo shares the main benefit she has taken from her Raja Yoga practice, “I realized that I have so much power and strength to face any obstacles in my life with courage. That instead of being afraid of them, they just give me opportunities to realize that if I empower myself, success is always guaranteed.”
TV actress and singer Timmy Cruz is one of the students who has finished the Raja Yoga course. Last January 11, she led a program in Inner Space called “The Gift of Kindness,” punctuating her interactive talk with songs and dances to invoke the virtue of kindness innate in every soul.
Programs on self-development and values are also catered upon request by groups and organizations.
Youth programs, creativity workshops and team building activities are some of the special programs conducted by experienced teachers and facilitators.
Amid the hustle and bustle of urban life, Inner Space continues to offer souls from all walks of life a much-needed respite, allowing each one to touch base with their latent strenghts and resources, and to face life with dignity and new eyes. - Rappler.com
(For inquiries on programs, call Inner Space at 521-2015. You may also visit Inner Space Manila's Facebook page.)
(Rina Angela Corpus is an assistant professor of Art Studies at the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines. She survived Sandy while on special detail in New York in October 2012. She practices the healing arts of shibashi-chigong and Raja Yoga meditation. Her poems have been featured in Mad Swirl, Philippine Collegian, Philippines Free Press, and Tayo Literary Magazine.)
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