Thursday evening at Yale University was very special: Leonardo Stoute, Director of the International Silat Federation of America, led a Wellness Program for the Yale SMDEP. Leonardo Stoute, also known by his title Bapak Waleed, gave an hour-long lecture, followed by a second workshop hour, leading the attendees in breathing exercises, stepping, and hand movements. During his lecture, Bapak delighted the audience with stories from his own life, from coming to America not speaking a word of English, to receiving his MBA and being poised at the top of the business world, training as an Olympic level athlete with black belt in tae kwon do and red sash in kung fu. Ultimately entered an enlightened path, heading deeper into Indonesia for the last 28 years, he has spent time with the Elders to learn the ways of Silat Tuo Minang, Seni Silat Haqq, and Silat Randai of West Sumatra, the root of the Indonesian people and the Silat “Seni” arts of that region.
During the lecture and presentation, Bapak shared pictures and slideshows from his travels to Indonesia, as well as views of the Indonesian culture, and traditional performances of the Minangkabau people. He gave the participants a taste of the culture of Indonesia, focusing on the Minang, and then delved more deeply into their Natural Healing methods, through herbs, meditation, and movement.
Bapak spent much of the lecture encouraging the participants to find their centers, to dedicate time and space to themselves, to be peaceful and meditate, in such a way to allow themselves to stop thinking and let go the troubles and heaviness of daily life and studies. Even the simple act of relaxing from the head and shoulders downward can help you relax and sink into the ground, letting Mother Earth absorb the heaviness and burdens of this life.
As Bapak explained and described to participants, through meditation, and especially through awareness and control of the breath, students can begin to gain control of themselves, and their thoughts, and at higher levels gain control of their circulation and hearts. In order to find their center, they must gain an appreciation and understanding for the things that cause them to lose balance. Whenever there is a feeling of being upset or frustrated, it can mean there is a lack of acceptance, communication, and balance.
These techniques, through breathing and meditation, and sometimes simply leaving the room if a situation becomes frustrating, are all ways to regain one’s center in life.; Silat takes these lessons and applies them to movement – Bapak explained how those who practice Silat move “with balance” as opposed to “into balance”.
To appeal to the medical aspect of the curriculum, Bapak discussed the implications of stress for high blood pressure, arterial blockages, and other various health problems. On the flip side, he also discussed the implications of meditation for improving circulation and facilitating healing. Bapak also has extensive experience and training in other alternative healing methods and remedies, including in herbal medicine and Unani medicine, both of which fall under the category of Complementary and Alternative Medicine currently gaining recognition in medical research and curricula at top medical schools throughout the country, including here at Yale University. Bapak himself has had many remarkable experiences due to the effects of meditation and alternative healing, including an extremely quick recovery from microscopic surgery on his knee: the very next weekend he was leading a Silat workshop at Yale.
To demonstrate that the practice of “meditation in movement” can have both immediate and long-lasting effects, Bapak invited the participants to the floor of the lecture hall to see for themselves. He began with breathing exercises, to loosen the body and allow for the flow of breath and energy throughout. The movements were done in a slow and controlled fashion, rather than at speed, in order to focus on the meditative aspect. He then demonstrated and taught the basic movements of the main stepping patterns, and then isolated some of the hand movements in a sitting posture. As the movements became faster, Bapak encouraged the participants to not think about what they were doing, and instead to simply move, and thereby clear their thoughts.
Bapak closed the session by thanking everyone for coming in the traditional manner, and by asking everyone to share where they were coming from.; The Yale SMDEP draws talented college students interested in the pre-med curriculum from all over the country. The participants in the workshop came from across the United States, from the East Coast: Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida; the Midwest: Chicago, Cleveland, Houston; and the West Coast: Los Angeles. Several participants were from outside the Continental US: from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Ethiopia. Everyone thanked Bapak very much, asking follow-up questions about training, and about the Gamelan music that had been playing in the background for the duration of the lecture and workshop.
ISFA@Yale would especially like to thank:
Linda Jackson, Program Coordinator at the Office for Multicultural Affairs at the Yale School of Medicine,
Olatokunbo “Toks” Famakinwa, Yale Medical Student coordinator
Translate this Page