Living in the present

Courtesy / Diane Maodush-Pitzer

Courtesy / Diane Maodush-Pitzer

Ben Glick

It can be easy to lose track of time and even easier to lose track of the present. When students find
themselves stuck between antagonizing the future and lamenting the past, they can accumulate
pain, and as a result, stress. The Power of Mindfulness, a seminar on managing stress, features
speaker Sri “Baba” Shuddhaanandaa and aims to help students learn to re-center themselves in the

“The practice of being attentive: many of us live our lives either anticipating what’s to come or
rehearsing what has already happened,” said Diane Maodush-Pitzer, the program coordinator for
Religious Studies at Grand Valley State University. “Mindfulness is about living, paying attention to
the present as we face one another and the events of our own lives.”

Shuddhaanandaa will be presenting his Simple Art of Managing Stress (SAMS) seminar in the Grand
River Room in the Kirkhof Center on Sept. 20 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and
sponsored by the Religious Studies and Philosophy departments.

“Some of the tools that Baba will share are how we develop inner calmness that’s essential for
concentration, intuitive faculties, effective decision making, increased energy, peace,” Maodush-
Pitzer said. “Those are benefits we can all share.”

Shuddhaanandaa was working as a professor of finance at a university in Hyderabad, India, when he
renounced his worldly life at age 26 to dedicate his life to spiritual exploration. The essence of his
teachings is grounded in the Vedic principle of “Atma-Kripa” or “the grace of one’s inner self.” This
is achieved through love for one’s own self, learning to live firmly in the present and embracing
mindfulness. Shuddhaanandaa has been on tour since 1990 and has reportedly been the source of
inspiration of thousands from both Indian and Western traditions.

Maodush-Pitzer also worked with philosophy instructor Michael DeWilde to coordinate the event.
Both contend that all students will benefit from attending no matter their field of study.

“(The seminar is) open to all students,” Maodush-Pitzer said. “We think that the practice of
mindfulness is something that would benefit anyone, not just the students, faculty or staff of any
particular discipline. We all need to be present to this experience of this day rather than racing
ahead or looking behind. It’s a balance.”

Not only well-versed in Vedic tradition, Shuddhaanandaa is also a humanitarian and a political
activist who has worked for the emancipation of women and children in remote and impoverished
villages in India. In 1985, he founded the Lokenath Divine Life Mission in his home of Calcutta, a
temple dedicated to worshipping the Living God found in all beings on the planet. LDLM has helped
more than 8,000 children in the city slums by providing them with free education. The mission has
also treated more than 200,000 medical patients in rural villages free of charge.

The seminar will help expose listeners to issues such as these and bring concepts to their attention
that they may never have before noticed.

“I think that’s what a lot of us have issues with as students and faculty,” Maodush-Pitzer said. “How
we find that peace and calm when the world around us is rushing by; how do we center ourselves
and find that peace within that allows us to make decisions that are better, to live with our
neighbors around us with grace and hospitality instead of competitiveness and greed? These are
just some of the teachings that all of us can benefit from.”

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