Soon after the announcement of “The Trip of a Lifetime to India” came out, I was visiting the Ashram and Swamiji asked me if I was going. I had felt a tug in my heart as soon as I knew about this holy pilgrimage. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go?! But my mind came up with very “sound” reasons why I could not go — my work schedule, my family obligations, the difficulty of the long distance travel etc. etc.
Yet Swamiji had planted a seed when she asked me that question. Grace softened my mind to the infinite possibilities unfolding. Within a month, I was booking the trip, planning how to take three weeks off work, and going to India.
Indeed, it was a life-changing experience. India is the epitome of contradictions. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the colors of India are imbued with the extremes and paradoxes of life itself: Tantra in action, with spirituality woven in the sounds of cell phones ringing, dogs barking, incense burning, children laughing, and bells ringing at Nityananda’s temple. Ganeshpuri — the home of the Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation lineage, Bhagavan Nityananda and Swami Muktananda — is the quintessential India.
I am so grateful to have gone on that trip to Ganeshpuri. The experience of a spiritual pilgrimage is more than any other voyage. It is not just sightseeing, although we visited many sights. It is not just spiritual practices, although we did lots of those. It is all that and so much more. Spending precious time with Swamiji, as she guided us through the spiritual practices, was a great gift. What could be more valuable than the time spent with the Guru, especially in a place where her Guru comes from?
Swamiji helped us integrate our experiences with daily Sri Guru Gita chants, satsangs, and asana classes, while we also attended Abhishek (ritual bathing ceremony) to Nityananda, Muktananda’s ashram and many little temples.
One morning after visiting the Nityananda temple, I entered a small Shiva temple right next to the central Nityananda temple. I walked down a few steps into a stone structure and felt the cool air emanating from the stones. A vortex of gravitational energy pulled me in; a whirl of energies began spiraling within me, Shiva performing a cosmic dance within the inner realms of my being, Infinity housed within this body, my body. How lucky and fortunate I was to be with Swamiji and other yogis on that day, to integrate this experience during a deep meditation.
On another day, we were blessed to have a Vedic fire ceremony. It felt as if I were immersed in another dimension, beyond this time and space. It was absolutely amazing!
Swamiji told us stories, led us through chants and meditations, shared meals with us, guided us with so much love and compassion.
Today, the internal shifts from that trip are continuing to resonate in me beyond the physical and tangible. The subtle, continuing effects of the trip can be best summarized with the following words:
Shiva’s cosmic dance
Manifesting within me
Every cell is alive
It is exhilarating and overwhelming
The mind blazing with light
Absorbed in the vast ocean of stillness
Merging into infinity
Or is it infinity opening in me?
The Guru opening doors
I float in the inner realms of my Being
Knowing what I have always known
Remembering, not forgetting
“You are Shiva, my child,
You are That”
Silence abounds within me
As I open my eyes in this realm
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