Participating in the ananda spurana workshop, conducted by Sri Nithyananda Swamigal, propelled the writer into deep ecstasy and helped him find his true guru
When the student is ready, the Master appears.� A saying that unexpectedly came true for me after attending the Ananda Spurana Programme (ASP). A Master who attained enlightenment at 22, and is currently just 27! Meet Paramahansa Sri Nithyananda Swamigal, founder of Dhyanapeetam, located in Bangalore.
It all began with a mail from Life Positive mentioning a new swami in town who was giving discourses and conducting a two-day residential programme. Being an avid seeker, I was curious enough to go to the website www.dhyanapeetam.org and knew instinctively that this young man had got it! Seven years of seeking do qualify you to separate the grain from the chaff!
The first time I saw Swamiji was during his first discourse on The Power of Ananda�. A tall, handsome young man, with dark shoulder-length hair and a contented smile. While the discourse was wonderful, the question-answer session sparkled! A point that he made on the fallacy of the dilemma that most seekers face on whether to pursue the material life (vertical living) or spiritual life (horizontal living) stood out.According to him we can explode in 360 degrees all the time; only we need to drop the belief that we can only do either one. Then followed a session on healing. Swamiji's mission is two-fold: to heal the sick and guide seekers to experience ananda or bliss through meditation. He not only heals people, but also initiates those who desire to become healers.
The ASP began on Saturday morning and we checked into our rooms at a hotel in Mumbai. I shared my room with Anil Sadhana, 44, a consultant with a Mumbai shipping firm, currently on a one-year sabbatical; and Steve King, 46, a TV broadcaster from Oklahoma, US, who surprisingly also happened to be on a sabbatical! We were asked to wear comfortable white clothes.
The programme began with an anecdote from the swami: An aeroplane is once stranded in a village. The villagers, not knowing what it is, begin to use it like a bullock cart. Later, a city dweller arrives and teaches the villagers to use it for land transportation, without the necessity of having it pulled by bullocks. Finally, a retired pilot arrives in the village and begins to fly the plane. Our bodies are very much like the aeroplane. Ninety-five per cent of human beings use the plane like a bullock cart, 4 per cent use it as a motor vehicle and only 1 per cent use it to its full intended capacity.
The ASP essentially focuses on the seven chakras in our body that play a vital role in our total well-being. Our chakras get disturbed due to stress and negative emotions, creating disease and disharmony, which prevents us from functioning at our most vibrant and joyful level. During the ASP, swamiji elucidated on the emotions connected with each chakra and then guided us through meditation techniques to activate and energise each of the chakras. The meditations themselves were taken from sources ranging from Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity and the Upanishads. Swamiji also seemed to have an unending supply of jokes, anecdotes, insightful stories and quotes of various masters.
Muladhara (Root) Chakra
The root chakra is the sex centre. It is the source of creative energy. Swamiji elucidates: �We are both male and female in our energies, but society does not let us express both. Mostly, society represses the feminine energy: the left side of the body and the right side of the brain, which is the abode of beauty, stillness, poetry and art. Until age seven, your energy is total. Notice how children are beautiful in their beings. But beyond seven, children are forced to suppress their other side and thus wound their consciousness. In their search for their other half, girls adore their father and boys their mother. Between ages of seven and 14, the wound can be healed if parents are closely present most of the time. But if the parents are not there, children look in vain in the outside world for that feminine and masculine energy.
Chidren in the 14-21 age group, are ready to engage with the opposite sex to marrybbut they are rarely allowed. So they collect and cherish imaginations and dreams of the opposite sex through the media. Manufacturers exploit this by selling dreams and sex appeal through their products. The root chakra is a continuous fountain of positive energybwhile your imagination and expectations are like a huge stone blocking this marvellous energy fountain. When we burn away all our unwanted imaginings and memories and open ourselves to reality the creative energy of this chakra flowers.
Swadhisthana (Spleen) Chakra
This chakra is located two inches below the navel and is the place where fear attacks you. Swamiji says: The average person has six to 12 fear strokes every 24 hours, while both awake and sleeping. This weakens your immune system and leads to depression, illness and aging. Fear primarily falls into four categories: i) Fear of loss of status, wealth or comfort. ii) Fear of disease or loss of a bodily part. iii) Fear of loss of family or friends. iv) Fear of death. Fearlessness is not absence of fear but really the courage to face the fear and experience it completely. If you can truly enter into the space of fear, it can never affect you again so deeply.�
Manipura (Navel) Chakra
Worry and suppressed emotions sit in the navel centre and fester, blocking this chakra. Worrying is nothing but a constant repetition of certain words in the mind. This drains away your energy and takes you out of the total awareness and bliss of this moment. Worry is a terrible waste of time, thought and energy. 99 per cent of your worries never come true and the one per cent that do, end up being good for you, says Swamiji. He adds: A person who has mastered the art of worrying gets into a depression.
We were told that many stomach problems, skin diseases and pain are related to the navel centre (worries). Obesity is another byproduct of worry and depression. Gibberish (talking in tongues), a cathartic meditation picked from Eastern Christianity, required us to speak in a language we did not know, giving full expression to all the pent-up emotions suppressed in our navel centre. Thankfully, we were blindfolded throughout the meditation, enabling us to give full vent to our emotions.
Anahata (Heart) Chakra
Unconditional expression of love and affection expands this chakra. Constant need for others attention and approval blocks it. Life is a long signature campaign says the swami. We are constantly working for social success, rather than individual success. A person working for individual success, even if he fails, will have the satisfaction that he has lived his life. He adds: Make a list of all those people who have the power to upset you and realise that you are psychological slaves to these people. The conscious realisation itself will bring about a freedom.
On relationships, he adds: We never know the people who are closest to us. We simply form an image of them and continue to relate to that image throughout, while the person is an ever-changing multi-faceted centre of consciousness.
Visuddhi (Throat) Chakra
Three layers of energy merge in the throat chakra: ordinary physical energy, reserve energy to be used in emergencies and spiritual energy. You usually use only the first level and forget that there are two more levels behind it. In er to access these levels we need to get rid of our ego, which results in either a superiority or inferiority complex. Comparison and jealousy lock this chakra. When you run in the rat race, the visuddhi closes. Understanding and appreciating your uniqueness opens it. You usually create an idea about yourself and compare it to others, which is senseless. If you live your life, you will grow uniquely and will have profound satisfaction whether or not you have money, fame, etc, says swamiji. When you feel tired in your body, you can say no! and go to the next layer of energy which will provide you with all the energy and vitality that you need.
To access these hidden layers of energy we were asked to run on the spot for 21 minutes, a technique followed mainly in Zen monasteries.
Ajna (Brow) Chakra
Ajna means will power. We usually spend 80 percent of our energy desiring and 20 per cent of our energy to create. These percentages get reversed when this chakra is opened, resulting in fewer desires but more power to create them into reality. Conditioning, labelling and judgments contaminate this chakra. All judgments are prejudiced; they draw conclusions from a few observations contaminated by our conditioning. I am this, you are that, life is this, etc,are statements of the ego. This mental chatter reduces all our experience merely to words, said swamiji.
But he added: To live spontaneously and intensely we need to deal with every person and situation without a script. If you trust your being you will have an enormous leap of growth through such spontaneous interaction with the world. Face life without a script and you will realise that you know much more than you imagine. Whether you believe it or not, like it or not, the fact is that you are God!
Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra
Sahasrara means the thousand-petalled lotus. When this chakra opens, you are flooded with ecstasy and eternal bliss. Discontentment and negativity towards life block this chakra. Gratitude for life and all that God has given us opens this chakra. So many blessings are showered upon us and we take them for granted. Our very life and our body are amazing gifts from God absolutely incredible! Living out of deep joy and bliss is the product of simply showing gratitude and respect for the divine. Loving the whole world is easy; loving your neighbour is difficult because it requires action, through acts of gratitude, compassion and affection. Feel gratitude for every small thing in life. Gratitude is the greatest attitude.
For the meditation on this ultimate chakra we were guided by Swamiji to remember and pay gratitude to all those people who have enriched our lives. I was so moved that I simply couldn't hold back my tears and when I did open my eyes, I found many eyes moist with the joy of gratefulness and deep love.
The session on the chakras was followed by kirtan and energy darshan. Kirtan entailed dancing with gay abandon to the Nithyananda bhajans. When I began dancing I simply couldn�t stop! The mind had stopped and I had become the dance! This was nitya ananda (Eternal Bliss). During energy darshan, swamiji transmits energy into each person individually. Thus we ended the ASP in an atmosphere charged with love, joy and bliss.
Exhilarating! is one word that sums up my experience. If I were to mention just the one most important thing I got as a result of the programme, it would definitely be the ability to live life more spontaneously.
My ASP lasted about a month. The reason I say so is that soon thereafter I went to swamiji�s ashram near Bangalore and attended the Nithyananda Spurana Programme, a four-day advanced residential workshop. This was followed by a two-week Himalayan trip with him and 80 other devotees. It was unexpected that this workshop would impact my life in such a way, but it has. Just proves once again that life is indeed unpredictable!
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