By Life Positive
The recently concluded Life Positive residential Expo in Rishikesh was a life- transforming experience
|Feeling sheltered in Shiva’s grace: Organisers and delegates come
together for a happy photo at the Expo.
There is only one word that captures the impact of the Life Positive Expo in Rishikesh held on October 5 and 6: Transformational.
The magic was in everything. There was the sublime Ganges flowing swiftly, serenely, and purposefully to her destination to the sea (what a powerful metaphor for the spiritual journey itself!). Then there was the majestic Parmarth Ashram where the Expo was held, full of embellished arches, sculptures, and greenery. Magic emanated from its spiritual head, Pujya Swami Chidananda Saraswati, so full of spiritual ardour and bhakti bhava. We also had the poignant and powerful sharing of Sadhvi Bhagavati, Swami Chidananda’s principal disciple. Add to that the powerful and life-shifting workshops, the magical Ganga aartis every evening, the Ganga snan that washes away all sins and the brooding Himalayas standing like silent sentinels around the verdant Rishikesh, and it all adds up to an unforgettable experience.
Three days is not much, but then again, transformation can happen in a heartbeat. Says one delegate, who does not wish to be named, “It seems that Maa Ganga has engulfed all my negativity. I have learnt that true happiness is not about taking, but about giving. I have been so attached to material things but now I have started to believe in giving with an open heart.”
The buzz began at New Delhi station itself as delegates from all over the country and indeed, the world, gathered to board the ‘Enlightenment Express’ to Rishikesh. Among our international guests were Matt Wingard from Australia, Bhupendra Khatri and Shakuntala Khatri from Fiji Islands and Betty Steinhauer from Canada.
|SD Saxena, Sadhvi Bhagwati, Suma Varughese,
Sw Chidananda, Aditya Ahluwalia and Sun Yogi Umashankar at the inauguration
Delegates joined the yatra from Trichy and Vishakapatnam in the South, Mumbai and Nagpur in the East, and from every nook and cranny of the North. With spirituality as a bonding force, everyone quickly became friends and before the train had steamed out of the station they were swapping stories about the workshops they had attended, and the experiences they had undergone.
Over the next three days, intimacy quietly wove indelible bonds among the delegates over shared lunches, minuscule cups of tea from the teashop outside Parmarth, dips in the Ganga, walks along the narrow pathways flanking the ashram looking for bargains in jewellery and crystals, sun yoga with the incomparable Sun Yogi, sharing experiences and exercises at the workshops, long walks in the ashram in the quiet of the night and exchanging confidences between room-mates.
|Swami Chidananda steeped in spiritual ardour
at the inauguration
No wonder that the delegates have expressed their glee and gratitude in fulsome terms.
Writes Rajnish R Singhla from Rudrapur, “These three days have been the most memorable days in my life. The respect, the love, the affection… have become a rich treasure in my life.”
Writes Anuradha Iyer from Delhi, “I want to express my deep gratitude and love to the entire Life Positive team for making the Rishikesh Expo so good for me and all the delegates of this programme. All the arrangements were perfect and so meticulously planned and carried out. It was done in a spirit of love, joy and caring and made me feel very, very special. The sessions were all very good and really useful to me in my spiritual journey. I have started Surya Yoga from today and intend to go on with this and all other lovely practices I learnt from Maa Gyan Suveera.”
|Sunyogi training the participants on sun yoga|
The first two days of the Expo began with the unique and most marvellous sun yoga, discovered and popularised by Umashankarji, popularly known as the Sun Yogi, who, with his slender frame, muslin dhoti and angavastram harks back to the yogis of yore.
The Sun Yogi taught participants to make friends with the sun, the source of life itself on Planet Earth, and according to him, a potent vehicle to heal diseases, mobilise energy and even achieve enlightenment. He taught participants a safe way to gaze at the sun and many broke into raptures about the beautiful experience.
After that, The Expo was formally inaugurated by Swami Chidananda Saraswati, head of Parmarth Niketan by lighting the traditional lamp. Life Positive chairman Aditya Ahluwalia, publisher Gouran Dhawan Lal and editor-in-chief, Suma Varughese felicitated the august guru with a bouquet, plaque and shawl.
In his speech on the life positive, Swami Chidananda said. “We often wonder about how to make life positive, but the truth is that life is naturally positive. So we have to inquire into why we make it negative. In life there are two types of perspectives. One is the Isha srishti, or the divine vision where everything is whole, perfect and wonderful. Second is the Jeeva srishti or the human vision seen through the prism of our desires and wants and therefore serving a dissatisfying picture.”
He urged the delegates to shift from reaction to response. He said, “There is a pause between reaction and response. And that pause is created only when you are aware.” He advocated meditation in order to stay grounded even in provocative situations. He narrated his own experience when as a young swami in USA in the ‘70s, he was often subject to abusive phone calls. Instead of reacting, he would simply fob them off by saying, “Sorry, wrong number.”
Sadhvi Bhagwati then took on the questions from the audience and answered them on Swamiji’s behalf. She urged the people to believe in God’s divine plan and learn to value each experience that comes their way.
Post lunch, the workshops began with two running concurrently. Day One had workshops by Maa Gyaan Suveera and Shalini Kalra Jacob.
Affirmations and Positive Intentions
(“Ordering from the Cosmic Kitchen”) by Shalini Kalra Jacob
|The upbeat delegates at Shalini’s workshop|
Shalini Kalra Jacob served up a sizzling workshop filled with exercises and meditations oriented to help us perfect our skill in attracting what we want into our lives. Her workshop emphasised the rules and laws that governed the manifestation of affirmations. Explaining that our fears and subconscious patterns and thoughts can trip up our capacity to manifest affirmations, she urged participants to do the inner work necessary to heal themselves.
Much of her presentation was based on the work of Louise Hay. In one exercise, participants were asked to meet their inner child at age four and hear what they had to say on the nature of life, relationships, health, and money. Explaining that most of us operate out of beliefs formed before we turn six, she asked delegates to rework the statements which were negative.
She also recommended Mirror work, another favourite tool of Louise Hay. Looking into the mirror, delegates were asked to affirm some of the things they would have most wanted their parents and spouse to say to them. She outlined eight rules to keep in mind while affirming. These included knowing what you want. A most important point as most of us have contradictory desires or have no idea what we really want. Others were, conveying the orders positively, in the present tense and making it personal, trusting the timing of delivery and letting go of timelines, letting the cosmic chef decide how you receive your order, and allowing your inner wisdom to guide you in the right balance between taking action and allowing. Delegates were also given the opportunity to frame and practice affirmations.
Undoubtedly, the Cosmic Kitchen is going to be busy henceforth fulfilling the order of the LP Expo participants!
Trinity mind case by Maa Gyan Suveera
|Participants listening intently to Maa Gyaan’s gyan|
Maa Gyan Suveera introduced the concept of the gunas in her Trinity Mind Case workshop. She said that no matter what we do or where we go, we are under the influence of the three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas. How a person conducts himself depends upon the dominant guna or combination of gunas active in him. Participants were made to fill out a questionnaire to identify their gunas. She said, “If you are a sato-rajo type like I am, you shall be full of activities meant to further spirituality, whereas a sato-sato type individual would turn hermetic.” She also identified a rajo-sato type as commercially dynamic but operating from the foundation of spiritual ideals while a rajo-rajo type would be the embodiment of activity based on ambition and drive such as those from the glamour and sports industry.
Awareness of the role of gunas in our lives can help us identify which guna is active in which situation. Freedom from the rule of the gunas will come through meditation and chanting of God’s name regularly. She also explained that in time we would recognise that we are not the gunas and therefore be able to watch their interplay with detachment.
She advocated the tratak method of meditation as a means to achieve balance of mind.
The workshop ended with pleased participants clamouring to be embraced by the energetic saint. There were hugs, smiles and even a few tears as the entire gathering huddled together for a photo-op.
Soul Talk by Sadhvi Bhagwati
The long day was satisfyingly brought to a close by a post-dinner soul talk by Sadhvi Bhagwati, Swami Chidananda’s chief disciple and a Stanford University graduate from USA who left everything to be by her guru’s side in Rishikesh. She first took the delegates into a deep and fulfilling meditation.
After that she spoke about the futility of looking for happiness in the wrong places. “If you want orange juice, you will never get it from a cow, no matter how hard you milk it,” she said graphically. Happiness being a quality of your soul, the world and its alluring things will not help you get them, she said. “Happiness is our real nature but to find it we need to connect with ourselves in deep meditation,” she added.
Later on, she took questions from participants and also spoke at length about her spiritual journey and how she came to India in 1996 as a tourist, met Swami Chidananda Saraswati in Rishikesh and found that her feet would not allow her to leave the ashram. Eventually, she returned to Swami Chidananda and said sheepishly, “I think I am supposed to stay here.” And stay she has ever since.
Quantum Energetics by Aditi Surti
|Aditi interacting with participants during
On Day 2 of the Expo, Aditi Surti put participants through a quantum leap. Explaining that the philosophy of Quantum Energetics was directly based on quantum physics, she pointed out that quantum physics saw the world as composed of a field of light and energy. In this field, all particles of matter send out waves that intermingle with each other. This phenomenon is called ‘interference’ or ‘entrainment’. Thus each of us receives and sends out waves from everything that exists, which explains why we are interconnected.
The waves that we send out not just impact the others but also contain information that can be picked up and used for healing. Quantum Energetic healers do not see the human being as physical. They connect to the field around us and from which they pick up information about the patient through the power of intuition and heart. Aditi pointed out that the healer uses intuition to gather the information from the field, and his heart energy to intend a healing. This intention, when emanated from the zone of pure consciousness or from the state of ‘witnessing’, could powerfully ‘entrain’ with the patient and bring about miracles of healing.
Quantum Energetics, therefore, does not ask for any history from the patient. Guided by his intuition the healer touches whichever part of the anatomy his attention is directed to and continues to move his attention from spot to spot in alignment with his intuition. Many patients have collapsed from the impact of these light touches, she divulged.
Participants were put through meditations aimed at soothing and pacifying the mind and enabling the participants to get in touch with their heart energy and intuition. They were invited to work on each other and see if they could pick up any patterns from their partners. Many were delighted to find that they not only found a diseased spot in the anatomy but also found that the intention and touch healed it. Surely a healing devise of the future, once we take back our intuitive powers and come from the depths of a benevolent heart.
Meta-medicine by Anu Mehta
|Anu engaging the delegates in active healing|
Anu Mehta started her workshop by checking everyone’s chakras through a machine. Participants were asked to introduce themselves and speak about the ailment they suffered from. She explained that the impact of our thoughts and feelings in a traumatic situation can later show up as an illness. “We are biological beings and our bodies are very deeply aligned with what we think or feel. Diseases are nothing but outward symptoms of the inner traumas we are facing,” she said.
When a participant asked her what could cause blood cancer, she said it denoted issues with a person’s blood ties. Asthma, or a feeling of being suffocated, was very closely related with survival issues. According to Anu, Dr Bruce Lipton, stem cell biologist, and bestselling author of The Biology of Belief says that there is nothing like genetic disorder. It is mostly the environment in which a person is living that triggers a disease and if the environment can be changed, the disease can disappear.
Shakuntala Khatri from Fiji complained about a stiff neck and shoulder. Anu suggested she investigate if she had an unbending mindset. The workshop involved a lot of play-acting, and sharing by participants who unloaded a lot of emotional baggage, and felt healed and relieved after the session was over.
The workshops were brought to a sublime finish by the world-renowned Ganga aarti conducted by Swami Chidananda and his group of vedic students called Rishi kumars. Life Positive Expo delegates were given special permission to view the proceedings from the other side, on a raised dais constructed over the river, holding a majestic sculpture of Lord Shiva. From this vantage view, delegates swayed in ecstacy as Swami Chidananda and his boys sang bhajans after bhajans with tremendous bhakti and devotion. while the Rishi kumars poured ahutis in the hawan kund. The ceremony climaxed with the Ganga aarti by Swami Chidananda, while from the other side, Life Positive delegates too, waved aartis which were passed from hand to hand in a spirit of unity and oneness. Jatin Shah, a delegate from Mumbai, said, “This is one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had lately. I would give it a seven-star rating.” Addressing the audience, Sadhvi Bhagvati publicly appreciated the efforts of Life Positive in organising the grand Expo. Finally, everyone took a vow to protect the Ganga and water bodies everywhere by raising their hands fervently on cue from Swami Chidananda.
|Participants taking the holy dip in Mother Ganga|
With the workshops officially over, the third and the last day of the Expo unfolded fun and sightseeing for the delegates. It began with a ceremonial holy dip in Mother Ganges while the Rishi kumars chanted the Gayatri mantra from the dais above. The holy river offered her blessings to the delegates as men and women plunged into her icy waters only to find that in moments the cold had evaporated and they could comfortably flow in her waters. A few enthusiasts even dared to swim in the water. “I really felt purged after I bathed in Mother Ganga. It was an experience of a lifetime,” said Purnima Gopal. The delegates filled bottles after bottles of the holy water to take home as a memento.
Delegates were then given time off to do some sight-seeing, river rafting, temple visiting or shopping.
|Students of Dev Sanskriti University
giving a lavish welcome to the delegates.
The last stop before returning to Delhi was a tour of the Dev Sanskriti University of Shanti Kunj Ashram of the Gayatri Pariwar in Haridwar. The speaker, Mr. Chinmay Pandya, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University,
explained, “The students in the university are trained in all the fields but with the core teaching and training being spiritual in nature. They are trained in yoga, performing hawans, reciting and reading the scriptures and doing voluntary service for the downtrodden section of the society, apart from being trained in modern education.”
Later, the delegates were taken on a tour of the ashram. They visited the Samadhi sthal of Pundit Sriram Sharma Acharya and his wife Bhagwati Devi and visited the bookstore of the Ashram. Delegates were warmly invited by the ashramites to come and spend nine days in the ashram to know more about it.
Tired, but satisfied, the delegates returned to Delhi, spelling the end of the Expo but the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of all who had come for it.
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