Namaste to everyone and thank you for taking time out to read about my fascinating journey from impulsiveness to mindfulness!
Firstly, thank you for all your love and adoration for my mere endeavor, this blog. I’d like to fully expand about my journey on this path and my wish is to inspire others to do the same! It’s going to be a long read but I promise to make it interesting and from the heart. Let’s begin!
Apart from being intensely interested about the yogic science of living, I’ve found that not only is yoga a beautiful way to live, it is also the only way one can live beautifully. That remark may be a tad much but even the process of breathing calmly is actually linked to meditation and hence, yoga is in every breath that we take whether we acknowledge it or not.. I’ve been practicing Hatha yoga for a year now but having been born in India, I was always surrounded by its influences. I consider myself lucky to be born in a very spiritual family and in a land like India that is the birthplace of spirituality. I realize the benefits of this today but like any raging teenager, my early years were a mixture of rock music, impulsiveness and rebellion. Today, I can successfully say that my life has been enriched a thousand times over by realizing the beauty of authenticity, studying scriptures, practicing yoga and above all, meditation.
School and College life
I’ve always been a very rational and logical person and anything without proof has never managed to affect me. Being a female from India, I was used to a certain restrictive lifestyle until I moved to Singapore for three years to complete my Bachelors in Accounting and Finance. Even though I was quite healthy, happy and dedicated towards my studies, I had a million questions about everything. These were not academic questions, but more existential in nature. There have been countless times when I sat down to google the “meaning of life” and I always came up with contradictory answers. This went on for a long period and aggravated my mind further when I moved back to India after the completion of my course to study for another degree. I was armed with a college degree and new found independence but I was squirming for answers on the inside.
Those first few curious steps
As my questions grew in magnitude and my studies started to weigh down on me, handling family pressure and career compulsions soon left me feeling heavy and burdened. I was in need of answers more than ever and I had recently gotten out of an intimate relationship with a friend that left me quite depressed. I was turning into a bitter cynic and began to actively look for answers to my questions about my existence. One fatal night, I came face to face with my first and final panic attack. I not only felt utterly hopeless but I also realized that something had to be done to improve my mental health and it had to be done now. In order to be able to concentrate better on my studies, I took a firm resolve to learn to meditate. I saw countless videos, tutorials and downloaded many apps to help me with this and within a span of one month, I heard learnt to effectively meditate.
Observations of a calm mind
As my meditation practice progressed, I began to observe empty spaces in my mind that desired answers more than ever. I was automatically drawn to all the yogic aspects around me and without much effort, I seemed to accept them into my life. As my mind calmed down further, it built in itself the strength to truly distinguish between the logical and the irrational. Astonishingly, I realized that spirituality was quite different from what I thought it to be. It is based on pure logic and intensive study of the human mechanism, it’s desires and aversions. During this time, I went through a tremendous change and as I probed deeper into this world of the anti-physical, the more sense it made. Here is the progression of my intensive study that have brought me to where I am now.
Joining a Hatha Yoga class
I started off with rejoining my Hatha yoga classes that I had abandoned a long time ago. This made my body quite sore at first but I began to feel inner strength within me in a span of three months of continuous and dedicated practice.
My teachers are from Mystic Yoga, a chain of yoga studios in my city and I am eternally thankful to them for kick starting my journey towards finding my true self. I befriended an old lady in my yoga class who suggested quite a few books to me and helped me come closer to the truth by patient discussions after class. This fine lady not only was an 80 year old personification of human jelly, she had minimal white hair and a glowing face. Quite an inspiration for someone at her age, right?
Unending curiosity and intensive study
I read countless books among which the Yogasutras of Patanjali and the complete collection of books by B.K.Iyenger resonated most with me. I began with simple meditation books (The art of meditation) and some that arouse spiritual curiosity (The Autobiography of a Yogi). I also read a few religious ones that didn’t have much impact on me back then. I purchased a copy of the Bhagavad Gita out of curiosity but it still lies unopened in my drawers as I’d promised myself that I’d not touch it before I felt I was worthy of its contents.
I was constantly watching Youtube videos by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudeva, an enlightened being and a fiercely logical man. He somehow knew my questions before I formed them in my mind. It was quite overwhelming to absorb all the knowledge thrown at me but with time, I began to organize my mind well in order to process this new world of the spirit.
Introduction to the core of Hinduism
I began to meditate on a daily basis for longer periods of time. Apart from the countless books read and numerous documentaries watched, I began to ponder over my own existence. After months of meditation, I could feel a proper distance from my body and mind and felt like the only freak in the world who thought this way until I came across a Youtube video by Swami Sarvapriyananda, a Vedanta scholar. This discovery not only introduced me to the core of Hinduism, but effectively blew my mind with its detailed research and intellectual wisdom. I never knew one could logically arrive at answers I had craved so dearly as I had tried to do so a million times in the past. These videos were not only an essential discovery, but also an entry into the world of truth where nothing but reason prevails.
Religion and faith
Through so much contemplation and reading, I did the impossible. I could feel myself converting into a theist. This is difficult to explain here due to space constraints but I had managed to understand those religiously irrational people I always scorned at for being positively crazy and specimens of utter stupidity.
I finally understood the benefits of Bhakti yoga and instead of looking at religion with disgust, I began to see the core of Vedanta principles in them. Truly, within a span of months, I became a completely different person.
Music and meditation
I rejoined Indian Classical music lessons and delighted in my realization that Indian music is actually designed to bring about meditativeness within the practitioner. I have been learning music since I was six and my Guru showered all his teachings and blessings on me unconditionally. When I rejoined him, he claimed that I was old enough to link music with spirituality. He explained that the seven notes in music are related to the seven main chakras in the body and had a special purpose in energizing them respectively. Having meditated for months now, I could go into the same meditative state by singing and this not only aroused my dormant love for classical music, but added a flavor of love and surrender into my meditation practice.
Fasting and rituals
I had a prominent disgust for Hindu rituals and practices performed by family elders and I would always escape from them within a few minutes in the past. My study and research strongly recommended these rituals and this time, I was keen on understanding their place in the world of yoga.
Apart from my own research and experiments, I was surrounded by this wisdom all around me. My grandmother suggested worship of Lord Shiva and fasting every Monday for peace and wellbeing. She could sense my hesitation so she asked me to consider it as an experiment. “Try it for a month, if you don’t feel like continuing, stop” is what she asked of me. I was actively trying to understand the world around me and countless books had suggested ritualistic poojas and Vedic diet for one day every week. I agreed in order to understand these rituals first hand.
Vedic diet only comprises of fresh milk, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. If the faster is meek, he/she could eat out of this diet once a day but salt and onions where to be avoided. I obviously chose the easier option, bathed early on the next Monday and came down to the temple in my home to start the rituals. I’d seen them since my childhood and did them mechanically at first. When I lit the sacred fire for aarti, I felt lighter and far more alert than I usually do. I still do this pooja and feel the same after every aarti. As I kept this up, my Monday blues turned to mornings full of positive and joyous thoughts and astonishingly, I began to look forward to this ritual every week.
Apart from the pooja, the diet too has had tremendous effects on my body and mind. When I ate light, my mind was alert and body, flexible. I could accomplish a lot despite my light diet and I realized first hand that food was not only for the body, but also for the mind. These influences have brought me peace, tranquility and a lot closer to my own culture and beliefs. I am utterly fortunate to be born in a place where cows are worshipped, God is fed before the family and people do not need a reason to be spiritual.
Asanas and Pranayama
Daily practice of strenuous asanas and dedication towards pranayama helped me shake off asthmatic tendencies from my childhood. Every bone and muscle in my body demanded yoga the day I did not lay down my yoga mat and my level of fitness had never shot up to such levels. The asanas were difficult at first but I pushed harder everyday and with time, it did got easier. Everyday I get a little further into my stretches and can feel a real difference in the way my body moves. What’s more, my mind has learnt to discipline itself in during this past year.
Coming to the present
I still practice yoga, pranayama and meditation and I still watch videos, read books and surrender to my Guru. Have I changed during the past year? The answer is a resounding yes. I feel much closer to my true self, my body is fitter than it ever was and my mind a lot sharper than before. Most importantly, my ideas about happiness, success, depression and failure have completely changed. My goals in life have drastically changed and success for me is a calm, happy and an enlightened being.
I was so amazed at my own journey that I couldn’t help but share it with those around me. This got me a lot of admiration and I was asked to teach my techniques to others and I did. Apart from physical techniques, I helped people around me to meditate and find peace in their lives. I knew that I couldn’t stop there and I began to write about my findings in this blog. Please feel free to read through it as my only aim is to bring people towards their inner state of happiness and abandon.
As my writing was appreciated by my readers and people around me, I was offered to write for other blogs, online magazines etc. When the audience loved my work, it game me more confidence to try expressing the inexplicable in words. I discovered my passion to write and influence others positively through yoga, meditation and spirituality and I am eternally grateful to the energy within all of for guiding me to take those initial steps into the world of spirituality.
As for me right now, I am in no way an expert of any scripture or technique but I know that with every passing day, I am inching closer to my goals.
My elders are my inspiration as I can see yoga in every word, action and thought of their’s. Moreover, there are two temples, two mosques, one church, a Buddhist school and a police station in the locality where I live. The Muslims visit the monks in the school and the Hindus help the church with its charitable endeavors. The police station on the other hand is always empty and the guards are almost always out partying. The last time I checked, India’s spiritual wisdom, tolerance and love for others has always allowed every member of different religions to live harmoniously on this land without giving up their faith or belief system.