By Life Positive November 2012 The recently concluded Life Positive residential Expo in Rishikesh was a life- transforming experience Feeling sheltered in Shiva’s grace: Organisers and delegates cometogether 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 ardourat 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.” Day One Sun Yoga 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
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