~ 80 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~
I did my 'Sahaj Samadhi' meditation course at the beginning of this week and I realised this would be the perfect time to recap my journey with 'The Art of Living' right from when it first began.
My tryst with 'The Art of Living' commenced when I was probably in grade 5 (as much as I can recall) - our school had arranged for us a unique session called "Art Excel" - it was during school hours, and as much as we liked not having to attend classes (*wink wink*), I remember thoroughly enjoying myself attending the session and taking baby steps into a new realm altogether. We were in Indonesia at the time, and my parents did their Basic (Part 1) course (which is now called the 'Happiness Program') around then too. I remember my parents doing what they called the 'Kriya' and my dad being thrilled that he could keep his antihypertensive medications at a good arm's length while continuing his Kriya practice. I wanted to get to do the Part 1 course too, but I had to wait slightly longer, until I turned 18.
As it so happened, I was walking around a park, with my mother one pleasant evening in Bangalore, chatting away, when we were stopped by a lady (whose face I definitely don't remember now), who handed us a pamphlet of an upcoming Art of Living - Basic course, happening not too far from home! I had just turned 18 and it seemed like the Universe had conspired for it to happen. I quickly registered for the same and so then that one week, I'd get home after medical school, and walk/take the bus to the centre for my Basic Course. The teachings were obviously nice, but the best take away was of course, the most beautiful "Sudarshan Kriya". I could finally join my parents during their practice and it made me feel all grown up too ;)
We moved houses, about 3 years later, and that is when we serendipitously met another AOL volunteer who came knocking at our door and thus began, another deep friendship. Mum suggested the weekly 'Satsang' rotation and thus kickstarted the every-Sunday evening Satsang sessions. Dad and I would love to discover and present new 'Bhajans' (devotional songs) and as more and more people joined the group, it turned out to be the musical highlight of the weekend indeed.
He turned teacher soon enough and we had weekly follow up sessions, on Saturday mornings conducted right within our apartment complex. Thus, our weekends were pretty much set. :)
I delved deeper, when I was in my 2nd-3rd year of medical school. I joined my parents for the 'DSN' course. We had early starts and long days, but it was so worth it. There was a lot of yoga and meditation, and thus we learnt the "Padma Sadhna". Following the course, we had 5am sessions, listening to the "Ashtavakra Gita", followed by group Sadhna and Kriya, and then I would head to college at 7am, and head back after badminton/dance practices at 10pm, lugging my heavy bag, in an overly filled public bus, all smiles, not an iota of tiredness - that is how energised I felt, getting up at 4am and doing the practice.
Another favourite course, was the Advanced/Part 2 course. I had just wrapped up my final exams and while the results were awaited, there was a short break, before our internship started. It was the perfect time, to go live at the Ashram and do the Silence program. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, interspersed with songs, yoga, seva (service), silence, meditation, deep introspection, dance and surrender. I was charged and rejuvenated, to face the busy Internship year head on!
That year was also the year, talks around my wedding got broached. Prantik (my husband) and I had been chatting and our long-distance relationship had been going on for a while; and so, when at first I spoke with my parents about him, they weren't on board; however with time, they got around, and soon enough, we found ourselves at the Ashram, end-2013, being blessed by Guruji himself. Thus, kickstarted our wedding planning.
Getting married to Prantik, also meant I was to move to Singapore. The Ministry was recruiting doctors from India, and I dropped in my resume as well. On May 13, 2014, I had my interview with a Professor at NUH Accident & Emergency - I answered all his rapid-fire questions, save for 1, and was thus shortlisted! We (mum, dad and I) thus celebrated Guruji's birthday in peace, at the beach.
For our wedding, as part of our Sangeet, we had renowned Swami Suryapada's (fondly called Chayanna) Satsang - his renditions of the songs can elevate one to a different level altogether. I danced in utter joy and celebration, clad in a pink Kanjeevaram sari, to everyone's favourite "Narayana Narayana". Such a blessed evening it was indeed.
After our wedding and moving to Singapore, I did have opportunities to attend conversations with Sri Sri, on a couple of occasions, during his Singapore visits. In the meanwhile, the younger brother did his 'Yes+' course (targeted at the youth), conducted by Bawa-Dinesh - who I was fortunate to meet too and meditate with by the oceanside, one blue moon night. The parents did other courses, like Sri Sri Yoga,Shakti Kriya, Sahaj Samadhi, Vigyan Bhairav, Unveiling Infinity and such - they even sang with the 'Alaap' choir at the Ashram and also participated in the World Cultural Festival (with the Indonesia AOL group) held in Delhi, in 2016. With the Bangalore AOL group, they've organised blood donation camps, spent weekends reviving dried up rivers and so much more.
Fast forward to end-September 2016, while I was in labour, mum was meditating, silently, in the waiting room. Soon enough, our bonny baby boy was safely delivered. From day 0, he was lulled to sleep by his grandma, crooning "Nanda ke Laala". As part of the naming ceremony, the baby is given 5 names - one of them whispered into his ears by his maternal grandma was infact "SoHam". Mum stayed with us for a couple of years to help us with the baby - during my maternity leave, we would do our yoga and kriya together, or take turns if the baby was awake. On Ayaan's first trip back home, we indeed took him to the Ashram as well.
Ugadi last year, was when we finally found our way to the nearest follow up centre in the West of Singapore. Thus, we became part of the ever-growing group - and started attending follow up sessions, on Sunday mornings (schedule permitting). Held in a beautiful home, of a teacher-couple, where the sun rays, fall on a young Guruji's picture, where the money plant creepers have grown around, over time - I wish my schedule could permit me visiting their abode on more Sundays - irrespective, I'm very glad our paths met. He in fact held a 1-on-1 Sahaj Samadhi course, for me - and that was rather sweet of him, to accommodate my erratic work timings. And that was the highlight of the week. I would head for my lesson on effortless meditation, pre-or post-shift and go deeper into the world of the Self and transcend beyond.
I am still a sincere seeker, an eager learner and can't wait to experience more beauty, more Grace, while diving deeper into age-old wisdom. I've made many friends and well wishers, as I treaded on this enriching spiritual journey - do join me if you feel like it, to experience supreme bliss and inner peace :) Jai GuruDev!