10 years back – on a rainy morning in Kolkata (one of India’s metros), a very tired and confused soul dragged herself out of the house – in search of something. She had everything in life – yet something was missing. There was a gap that she could not place a finger on. And it was sucking out the life blood from her. She was desperately looking for a direction… not sure what the goal was. She sent out an SOS to the universe.
And then – from the universe – came a reply.
She did not have much clue – what the reply meant. “Go for the Art of Living course” – it said. What was this “Art of Living” ? But she just followed that message – and stepped out of the house that day.
She had no idea, that one step was the start of a journey – into the infinite. Where there was no turning back. Yet it was a step to come back home.
From 7-12 August 2001, I did my Art of Living Part 1 course in Kolkata. I had gone there primarily to find a way out for my “stress induced” breathing disorder and irregular heart beats. Which the doctor said – had no physiological cause. And no sustainable remedy – for someone in her 20s. Saddled by the burden of countless pills that left a bitter taste in the mouth, sleepless nights and the fear of a debilitating and unexpected panic attack at any time and place – I walked into that room full of people – not knowing whether I would find an answer. After the first day’s session – I went up to the teacher – a charming personality with an angelic smile (Sarita Jaiswal, an Art of Living teacher in Kolkata), clad in pristine white – and explained my situation. She gave me the most genuine smile, held my hand and said “you have come to the right place”.
10 years down the line – I could not have agreed with her more.
Those 6 days were so deeply transformational that at the end of it – I had the distinct feeling that till 6th of August 2001 I had lived someone else’s life. Was that really me ? I remember asking myself. Where was all this enthusiasm, all this clarity, and centeredness – all these years ? How did I even survive without it ? How could I have carried so much garbage all these years ? Stuck to what someone else said or did – letting others rule my life.. catching on to all the negative emotions people hurled at me.. not really knowing the bliss and lightness that was the REAL me..
That lightness of being – which I had never experienced before. Before I did my first Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) – I never knew what it is to be free – from within. To live in the moment. To immerse into the moment. To just BE.
And before I knew – I was walking the PATH. The path of sadhana, seva, satsang, and swadhyay..
Sadhana : Practices. I held on to my practices – S.K.Y. – for life. It became a part of my daily routine. Come rain, shine or thunder. I never gave up. It just felt natural to do it – just as brushing my teeth first thing in the morning. This ablution of the mind and soul. And whenever I got a chance – I went back to refresh it – with the group. My friend Probal – who was my friend, philosopher and guide on this path – told me – “Invest in yourself” – so I invested in Art of Living courses.. And being a finance professional myself – I was quick to realize that the return on investment was more than I ever expected, each Art of Living course that I went back for – the Part 1 course, the part 2 course, the Art of meditation course, the blessing course, and the Teachers’ Training Course – each of those courses shifted something in me. Removed some block in my life. Oh – did I mention that I came off my medicines for the breathing and heart problems within 3 months of my practices ? It just seemed like a by-product. The real treasure was what I uncovered within myself..
Swadhyay : Introspection – Observing the mind body complex.. With each passing day I found myself effortlessly letting go of guilt, fear, anger, jealousy.. so much so that after a particular situation happened I would wonder – Oh ! I did not react in a way I would have till 6th August 2001 (you know now why I felt more convinced that I was living someone else’s life before S.K.Y).. Is this REALLY ME ? Now – not that I will not be angry, or guilty, or scared, or jealous anymore. All those would happen. But how I translated that to my response to the situation at hand – changed. And how long those emotions lasted, also changed. I was able to drop those and move on – unlike before, when I would hold on to these feelings, have a volcanic eruption one day – and let wounds fester. I FOUND MYSELF SEPARATING ME FROM MY FEELINGS. I was no longer swept away by them. I could say “now now – I am getting angry !! hey – there comes jealousy again.. and that is guilt – watch out”
And at times – even when that did not happen – and the emotions would take over – I found MYSELF HEALING SOONER. I found myself dropping judgments, dropping labels, for either myself – or other “oh he is an angry person. Oh – she is always jealous of me .Oh – I always mess things up. I always lose it”
In a nutshell – I realized – nothing is for always. Everything is changing.
And that has been – the single most – all pervading – liberating and transforming, realization for me.
Satsang : The company of the truth.. Apparently – it was more like “sat and sang” with a group of people. The very first satsang I attended was on the last day of my Part 1 course – on 12th August 2001. The chants and the songs were simply so intoxicating… Even though I was hearing them for the first time, I don’t know what chord they struck in me.. I found myself getting up and dancing uninhibited in a room full of people. I never knew that music could be so liberating, that it could make me connect to the silence within.. and make me sink into a space that was so beautiful and serene. It was almost as if I had walked into a secret garden of fragrant flowers. No wonder I started longing for that space and took every opportunity to attend a satsang…
It took me a while to understand the other meaning of satsang – to be in the company of “satsangees” – fellow seekers who have also tasted the nectar of S.K.Y.. who were also on the path. To whom the journey was more exciting than the goal itself. People with whom I could be myself completely – without the fear of being judged. With whom I could connect without any explanations. Who would always uplift me and remind me of my true nature of peace, joy and love, any time I would be down. People who would support me unconditionally – even though for some of them – I would not even know the names, or would have met only for a short span of time. I discovered what really a one world family meant – when I changed cities or countries and found a satsang group everywhere, welcoming me with the warmth of a family.
And slowly and gradually – the connection started getting extended to people in every walk of life. I felt at home everywhere. And connected with people effortlessly. At work, in supermarkets, in airports, at banks, in public functions, and in interviews! Whether as an interviewer or interviewee – I could connect to the other person beyond what was apparent – and that was very interesting !
Seva – Service : Being useful. Being unconditionally available for whatever is the need of the moment. Soon when all these wondrous realizations about how I was changing happened, I found myself asking – now what ? What do I do with this extra energy and enthusiasm ? How much more can I do with my life ? it brought me back to a very old question I had – “what is the purpose of my life”. I found the answer – it was in being useful to others. To make others smile. Not only at home or work or in my immediate environment – but to others from whom I have no expectations. I soon found myself volunteering for Art of Living seva projects – teaching health and hygiene in slums, cleaning up local parks, campaigning for tree plantations.. but the most important service – I realized – was to share this beautiful and life transforming knowledge – that the S.K.Y. brings. Hence I went on to pursue the teachers training course of Art of Living and became a teacher in 2009. Life has become even more exciting ever since – as every time I sit on the teacher’s chair and repeat the knowledge for the participants, I become more strongly established in it too. And to see the participants open up and smile from within – is the most fulfilling gift that I have in my life.
Grace and Gratitude : I feel grateful for everything – the good the bad and the ugly in my life. For every situation gives me an opportunity to grow. I feel grateful for whatever situations had led me to the point of despair till 6th August 2001 – and which had prompted me to go for this course – without any knowledge whatsoever of how it could change my life. I still wonder how it all happened. Just as much as I wonder how this “connection” works.. the connection which answers my questions every day – when I open any random page of the book “Celebrating Silence” and a page opens that is so crazily, scarily, apt to the situation and state of mind I am in at that point – and immediately gives me a clue on how to get a handle on myself. The connection that if not the “Celebrating Silence” – some friend would come up and give me the knowledge that would be immediately uplifting – the first message in my inbox would be talking to me about what I am going through. This “connection” has never failed me – I have always been in its coverage the last 10 years..
Something that makes me realize – that it is really the grace, that brought me to this path – and grace – that takes me through every situation, good or bad, every day of my life.
And I am grateful for all those wonderful friends I have made on this path – and the amazing people I have met who have become my role models and have been there for me when I needed them. Those who have dedicated their lives to service. Those who have amazing wit and amazing knowledge, amazing talents… and amazing connection – knowing what is the need of the moment.
And saving the best for the last – I am grateful to have met in this life a living Master – His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – beloved Guruji. Who is a world figure, yet, has always been available for me whenever I needed HIM. How – is another story. That cannot be explained in words.
I had no idea what having a master, a Guru, a guide – meant. I never knew a Master could say “I am a garbage collector. Give me all your garbage, and be free” All I can say is – that with HIS presence in my life – joy has welled up without any reason, sorrow has diminished, talents have flourished, and abundance has increased. That – is the sign of a True Master – a “satguru”
In a nutshell – Guruji and S.K.Y. have made me realize that I am as infinite, as limitless – as the sky…
© Copyright Debjani Mitra at debjanimitra.blogspot.com and debjanimitra.wordpress.com