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Wedding bells in a Belgian prison | The Art Of Living Global
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Wedding bells in a Belgian prison

After a life-altering Prison SMART workshop, trials, tribulations and bombardment of affection, Marco gets married.

Love stories are always heart-warming to hear. Especially, when love comes your way when you least expect it and yet need it the most. Marco's is one such story, a story of finding love in the prison; of how Marco found the girl he married.

First few years in Prison

There was a time in his life when Marco was feeling depressed, aggressive and even suicidal because of the crime he had committed. The first few years in the prison were complete darkness, without a way back and without a way out. “As if my soul had been taken away,” he once said. Justified though, he believes, because he deserves punishment for the pain, sadness and loss that he had caused. Sorrow and repentance were tearing his heart. There was no help, only narcotics.

Transforming Experience

But he witnessed a transforming experience in his life – the entry of spirituality, yoga and meditation through the Prison Smart Program. In that one week he was a changed man. “I can’t possibly describe in a few words what I felt. Belongingness, tears of joy, love and happiness overwhelmed me! I wish what everyone wishes for – inner peace, strength, love, understanding and a future,” he shared in a letter to his Art of Living friends during Christmas.

Challenging times

But when Marco was transferred to a wing of the prison which housed prisoners labelled as ‘dangers to the society’, he began losing hope. “I woke up depressed or angry about things, but then I did some yoga and meditation and I overcame these negative tendencies. I might be abnormal and crazy but I am not a danger to the society! I want to become an Art of Living teacher and teach meditation, reach out to gang-members and convince them to leave the path of self-destruction. I only hope for another chance; a chance to bring more justice, happiness and love in this world.”

Deeply touched by his humaneness in the hostile environment, his teacher Katrien Hertog, in an attempt to cheer Marco, asked the volunteers of The Art of Living to support him and let him know that he is not alone. You might not believe it but he actually received over 400 cards, letters, paintings and greetings from dozens of countries. Touched to tears and feeling deeply grateful, he started putting life back on track.

Love blossoms

He stayed in contact with some of these friends and amongst them was one woman. Their frequent exchange of letters paved way to regular telephonic calls and soon she started visiting him often. Love burgeoned during these interactions and they decided to get married!So grateful for the miracle that happened in his life, Marco, who was allowed only 10 guests, immediately knew whom he would like to invite first: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living and his savior!

Begins a new life as a married man

On 1 June 2011, Marco married his wife in a simple and intimate ceremony in the same prison where his life took a U-turn.

“Celebrating a marriage in a prison is a special experience: it clearly testifies of the power of love above anything else,” said Katrien. She along with the mother of the victim, a monk and a nun, were amongst the eclectic 10 people who attended this marriage.

Toast to the couple

Inspired by the courage and hope that Marco showed, people from across the world prayed for his marriage. Echoing their sentiments, Katrien spoke at the wedding: “Let your love be multiplied by sharing it with the people around you and let it be a lighthouse for those who are searching. Already today, you are an inspiration to many people in the world who are touched by your example that testifies of hope, courage and faith. People feel inspired by your decision to love above anything else and despite anything else.”

The ceremony was a celebration of Marco’s transformation and reiteration of a reformed life. Marco has been diligently practicing yoga, meditation and breathing techniques ever since he completed The Art of Living course. And now he wishes to share the inspiring story of his life with the rest of the world through the book he is writing about the miracle that transformed him – the entry of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his life.

 

 

 

 

 



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Testimonials

 
M.,
age 26
“I had decided to go back to my anti-depressants before this (The Art of Living) course, but now I don’t need them. I will practice these techniques every single day for the rest of my life. I only hope other people are lucky enough to take this course. It has given me more help than I could have ever imagined possible. Thank you.”
Course participant

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Course Participant

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Dr. Venus

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M. Ali Bankat

"Before this experience, I was sad, depressed and starting to lose hope because of the situation here in Iraq. Now, after only four days, I feel confident in myself – happier, have hopes and dreams again and I feel that life is so beautiful. I have started to love everyone and physically I have much more energy and am able to do more things. I want to thank you very much for helping all of us feel better.”
 

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