By Lauren Soderberg, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney
“I meditate because I’ve always yearned for ‘The More,’” says Lauren. “At first, I thought it was outside of me. For most of my life, I thought life was about getting a good job so you can make a lot of money and get a nice house. I believed that happiness and fulfillment could somehow be found or acquired by seeking things externally. I thought I needed to line up all circumstances just right. Good relationships were part of that. All of it was external.
“My spiritual process has given me the opportunity to set aside everything that I thought I knew. I’m setting aside what I think I need, who I think I am and what life means. I’m finding out that there is a whole lot more to me than my thoughts or my personality. My personality and my thinking mind are always part of me. I meditate to find ‘The More’ within me.”
Lauren says, “I want to come home to my Self. The experiences I have during meditation are frequently deeply profound and moving. With nothing on the outside changing, I can have a peaceful internal shift; I experience internal freedom and fulfilment. These experiences have shown me that God and the answers I’ve sought are right here inside of me. They are closer to me than my own breath.”
Before the pandemic, Lauren consistently attended Swami Sunday with Gurudevi Nirmalananda. As service to the Ashram, Lauren also baked refreshments for the social time afterwards. When pandemic restrictions made that impossible, Lauren was sad and disappointed. During a conversation with a sister sevite, Lauren learned about the online Meditation Club. When she realized she met the prerequisites, Lauren was in. She has been a regular attendee ever since.
“I can literally feel the shakti, the energy, coming through the phone,” describes Lauren. Not an airy-fairy sort of person, Lauren is an organic chemist, steeped in science. She shares, “I feel quieter and more peaceful, grounded and stable. I can feel the backing of the lineage of Meditation Masters that we are a part of. I am so grateful for Gurudevi and those Gurus who showed her the way. In turn, she can show us the way.”
Lauren explains, “The Meditation Club has brought Gurudevi into my home. You can’t go to the Guru because of COVID, so the Guru comes to your home. Being in connection to her that way has been so transformative and helpful for me. Knowing I am not alone in this process is very comforting. Now I think about my house as an Ashram: a spiritual, sacred place. I treat my home differently. It’s become my meditation station. Before, I didn’t even have a regular place that I used to meditate. Now I have a special seat, my meditation shawl and mantra beads. I created a puja with a photo of Gurudevi and other sacred things.”
This connection is even more important because of what Lauren has been going through over the past year and a half. “What I’m experiencing internally has really kicked up,” she says. “And I’ve been having strong meditation experiences. While meditation brings blissful, magical experiences, I also go through some hard stuff at times. The Meditation Club has helped move that stuff along. It’s been a real support. I feel extremely blessed and know these experiences are really special.”
Meditating on schedule with a group has other benefits for Lauren. “It has given me the accountability and discipline to meditate that I couldn’t achieve on my own. I had been willy-nilly about the time and length of meditation. Knowing that I have a spiritual community and other people are doing the same thing as I am is huge.
“Gurudevi’s love is so important. It’s this feeling that touches me deep down inside me in my soul. It transcends any experience that I have ever had. It’s a love that feels mystical, yet is more real and pure and familiar than anything else I have known. Just by a look or a word, that love can bring me to tears.”