By Jessica Soligon, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney
“The more you do it, the more you want to do it,” asserts Jessica. “I got started because, like many people, I found the pandemic to be stressful.” She is a mother of six and an esthetician, so a lot of people look to her for caretaking. “I was in a constant and heightened state of anxiety and not sleeping at night.” Fortunately, she’d done some yoga and basic meditation years before. And even luckier, her aunt, who lives nearby, is a deeply dedicated Svaroopa® yogi. Aunt TC, as Jessica calls her, knew what would help.
At the end of June, Jessica took a Beginners Meditation class with Swami Prajñananda. Jessica says, “Swami Prajñananda gave an amazing class. It was very relaxing and came at a very important time. Things were changing in my life, so my aunt also suggested I do some vichara, guided self-inquiry. For eight weeks, I did weekly Zoom vichara sessions with Swami P.”
“She is amazing and has been a lifeline to me during this crazy time. It was hard for me to work through what was going on. The vichara sessions helped me to understand where I was personally stuck. Swami gave me the homework of doing five minutes of japa and five minutes of meditation. After some time, I noticed my anxiety was lower, and I was sleeping better. Working one-to-one with a swami has been great.”
Besides taking yoga and meditation classes, Jessica has been meditating regularly since September. “In class, I find it easy to quiet my busy mind and focus on the mantra. When I mediate on my own, it can be more challenging. But I always have the sense that I’m doing something good for myself. It feels good for my mind and my body. When I open my eyes, I always feel relaxed and in a positive place. Even though I’m getting up earlier to do my meditation, I feel more energized in my day.”
“What is most noticeable is that I’ve been reacting differently to things coming into my life. I also notice that when I’m not as consistent with my meditations, my anxiety returns. For a while, I got up early and listened to Gurudevi’s recording of singing the mantra. Then I wrote in my gratitude journal. Now I’m also doing more yoga poses before doing japa and meditation.”
Asked what keeps her committed to her meditation, Jessica answers, “It keeps my anxiety under control. It’s so reassuring to have that to depend on. It’s very reliable. Even starting out small with the five minutes of meditation made a big difference. Because of that, it was easy to make a commitment. The more you do it, the more you want to do it.” Something unexpectedly wonderful has been happening for Jessica in her yoga and meditation class with Swami Prajñananda. “This past week or two, I’ve had some new experiences. I feel my body fall back and forward and then feel like I’m falling asleep. Just this last week, my head moved forward, and I heard a crack. Afterwards I could breathe clearly through the left side of my head. Swami P was very happy to hear this. She explained that I received Shaktipat, Kundalini awakening. My mind is usually busy, but I was observing my mind. I’m working with Kundalini by saying the mantra over and over.” This is just the beginning of Jessica’s unfolding story.