By Gopika Nath
One day, in May 1994, in my studio in New Delhi, studying a work in progress, I felt uplifted beyond cognition.
It was an awakening moment that changed my life, altering perceptions, and empowering with a sense of control.
I did not know what had occurred. I just felt magnificent, and therefore curious. I was guided, intuitively, to an elderly family friend who led me to understand through books and suggested meditation. This was my initiation into the world of the spirit. I am grateful that I was not lettered in the conventions of spiritual knowledge, for this has allowed me to be unfettered by them.
However, routine and discipline are important for learning anything, and therefore I subscribed for the meditation techniques devised by Swami Parmahansa Yogananda, disseminated through the Yogoda Satsanga Sabha. I also learned reiki, which is comforting, but above all, opened me to the idea of asking. In prayer, I found solace.
In 2006, I could no longer follow the ‘kriya’ that YSS prescribed. A few moments of looking in, I would be intoxicated and had to lie down. The energy was too strong, so I eschewed all techniques, and let the spirit guide me. I continue to meditate twice a day. Diligent practice imparts skill in any dimension, also in knowing yourself and how to centre, even when ostensibly not ‘meditating’.
I do not follow any prescribed path. I awaken with a prayer, blessing each aspect of my day. I meditate, do yoga, reiki and walk each evening, fasting twice a week. I also write a daily journal, where I find clarity in direction through understanding. I start writing whatever comes to mind, however innocuous and my thoughts lead me. It was not easy to open up. I used to imagine someone watching over my shoulder judging everything I wrote, and then as meditation deepened, I was over-awed, thinking it to be divine intervention. I now realise I am just talking to myself from a depth of ease and familiarity I could not share with any friend. I relish this process, and devote at least an hour a day. Regular massages help me relax and stay tuned, even when seemingly against the tide. Inspirational literature/religious texts/biographies also play a vital role.
What I have learned is that success lies in allowing the space and time to be at one with myself. This process informed my living of the constant need for introspection, analysis, meditation, affirmations and prayer along with exercise to keep the body fit, the mind aware and aligned with my goals.
My diet and clothes did not change. Contrary to conventional belief, I eat meat and eggs, depending upon the kind of energy I need to harness. If I am feeling low and have a lot to accomplish professionally or physically, I find it helpful to use the energy from these foods. However, when I need to tune in deeper, then I prefer subtle foods. When life is inordinately stressful and active, I prefer not to eat. I meditate instead, sifting through the thoughts and feelings that create the stress.
I am very particular about cleanliness, orderliness and aesthetics in my environment. I like a variety of plants around me, and living on the eighth floor in Gurgaon, it is a treat to have potted palms and bamboo swaying in the hot summer wind or colourful dahlia and chrysanthemum blossom in the winter fog. I enjoy clothes, make-up and jewellery, especially for social interactions.
My practices allow me clarity of emotion and intellect, leading to efficiency in work and relationships. My confidence levels have improved and with it my physical health. I have been able to distance myself from negative forces and resolve complex relationship issues by being very quiet and having intense dialogues with myself – never brushing aside anything unless I have let it speak. This is fundamental to what I call loving me in all aspects. The process of looking rather than dismissing, allows objectivity which accords courage even when fragile and vulnerable.
The changes in my daily routine were gradual. I did not withdraw from the world but merely created a balance between the inner and outer dimensions of it. My life today, is inwardly vibrant and outwardly more active and involved than it has ever been. I have the confidence to refuse without feeling guilty; speak and share ideas and critiques where otherwise I would have been diffident. I have discovered purpose in being me, and am less afraid to be so. The travails of being and living persist; I have found ways to deal with them by empowering myself daily. This is not a ‘path’; it is my way of living.
Gopika Nath is a textile designer, fibre artist, writer, poet and teacher. Her activities also include investing regularly in the stock market.
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