By Kavita Byrd
Forgiveness is the magic mantra, as the author discovers from workshops at the LP Expo
Sometimes we fall into a magical vortex, where everything that seemed disconnected, fragmented in our lives, suddenly converges, suddenly pulls together and flows. My experience at the Life Positive Expo last month was one of those privileged moments – when it becomes irrefutably clear that there’s something much bigger at work in our lives than we can possibly see, and that whatever that big thing is, it’s surely taking care of us!
The magic began when Suma Varughese, the Life Positive editor, waved me down in the dining hall at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi, where I had been staying for some days, trying to decide what to do next. I had met Suma earlier this year, while working for a conference in Jaipur called “Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community” and had instantly liked her bright, open and exuberant nature. Now she had turned up here in front of me, totally to my surprise, and was inviting me to the Life Positive Expo. It would take place in the next few days, I was at loose ends, and – well, I couldn’t have been more delighted by the perfect synchronisation of it all!
I had been wanting to find out more about people doing holistic work in India, integrating the spiritual, psychological and social dimensions into a unified paradigm for personal and global healing. And I was particularly interested in women spiritual teachers and healers developing this kind of approach, in line with the work I’d been doing at the conference in Jaipur. Suma also knew that I was hoping eventually to create a centre along these lines, and you can imagine my delight to hear her offering to put me in contact with others at the Expo who might share my vision.
So on Friday, off we went to the Expo, Suma and I, with a wonderful little band of LP writers from all corners of India whose warm and engaging company I would be enjoying for the next few days. At the Expo, we got to choose a total of six workshops to participate in over three days, in addition to the talks each evening by spiritual leaders, and lots of stimulating chats in between over lunch and tea.
Every one of the workshops I did added a piece to the jigsaw that is my life at the moment. Interesting – because the themes of the workshops seemed at first glance quite diverse, spanning a wide and varied spectrum of body-mind-spirit approaches, yet what emerged for me was a coherent thread, a through-line, a connecting undercurrent of meaning, perhaps because each approach went deep enough to meet in a space of universal truth which informed them all.
Perhaps the most striking theme that cut across the boundaries of the workshops was the centrality of forgiveness as a gateway not only to healing but the liberation of consciousness. Forgiveness emerged as the key to releasing the lynchpin of negative patterns that keep us from moving forward in our spiritual evolution and our lives.
Sampoorna’s workshop on Forgiveness dealt most directly, of course, with this theme, offering an array of powerful techniques to release stuck patterns through forgiveness, freeing our consciousness for more expanded states, new possibilities and new directions. Jasmine Bharathan, in her workshop on Healing Trauma likewise skilfully guided us through techniques of subtle energy psychology which release traumatic energy circuits in the nervous system through forgiveness, creating the space to replace them with positive intention and affirmations.
We learned that scientific research has proven that forgiveness and positive intention engender neuronal plasticity, the ability of the neurons to release old, dysfunctional loops, and re-constellate in new, more harmonious patterns. These new patterns, as they form inwardly, then reflect themselves outwardly as new, more auspicious patterns in our relationships and our lives. How affirming, in and of itself, to know that this is possible, and the scientific evidence that confirms it.
In her workshop on Healing Relationships, Sri Samadarshini also stressed the role of forgiveness, especially in respect to relationship and family dynamics, as an essential prerequisite to healing and growth in all the dimensions of our life – not only for achievement and fulfilment, but also for awakening. I took this deeply to heart, since forgiveness, especially around relationships and certain man-woman dynamics, has been a sticking point in my life. I certainly wasn’t alone in this. Many others in the workshop were visibly moved as Samadarshini exhorted us to heal our relationships and took us through exercises that accellerated the process.
The interconnection between healing at the psychological /emotional level, and awakening at the spiritual level, was another theme that emerged repeatedly throughout the Expo. Healing our relationships, the inner patterns in our energy system and outer patterns in our lives, is necessary to free the space to reveal what we really are – the pure, unlimited space of Consciousness itself. And, conversely, the more this space is revealed to us, the more fluid and open can the dynamics in our energy systems and our lives become.
The message that was reinforced over the course of the weekend was that there is a clear positive feedback loop between personal and interpersonal healing on the one hand, and spiritual realisation on the other. It was demonstrated beyond any doubt that the principles of holism are true: that the spiritual, psychological and social levels of our being are all interdependent, and one cannot develop in a healthy way without the other.
This was brought home all the more by a curious juxtaposition of two techniques, one from Sampoorna’s workshop on Forgiveness, and the other offered by Roy Eugene Davis in his workshop on Kriya Yoga. In one exercise Sampoorna asked us to inhale up the spine, hold the breath at the third eye centre, and in the still point between the breaths offer forgiveness, letting go of old patterns. Then we exhaled down the spine, with a loud “Ha” of release. We did this just once, but the space we entered in that moment seemed timeless. This timeless space between the breaths, the still point between past and future, seemed such a perfect place to release old hurts and fixations, and re-connect with the vast limitlessness of our true potential.
So later when Roy Eugene Davis led us through a traditional practice called Kriya Pranayama, lights flashed on in my brain. Here again one breathes up the spine, holds the breath, and connects with the unlimited Consciousness at the eyebrow centre and crown, before releasing the breath down the spine – I instantly felt the connection between forgiveness and freedom, forgiveness standing as the sentry-guard at the gateway to our freedom.
The comprehensive scope of Roy Eugene Davis’ workshop, and also Swami Nityananda’s closing talk on the last evening, made clear that this freedom extends even further, or rather that from its still centre radiates a limitless circumference. We can realise not only the freedom to release old patterns, and to create new patterns in our lives, but also the freedom to rest in the place prior to and beyond all patterns, unbound by conditions or conditionings. And we can realise the freedom to move fluidly between the two: to be able to change the dream from the place of witnessing it as a dream, and at the same time to rest in the space of the pure witnessing Consciousness.
Roy Eugene Davis spoke of our capability of reaching superconsciousness, of tapping into our true omnipresence, and Swami Nityananda spoke of mukti – the dynamic, all-inclusive consciousness that integrates both shakti (the power to change events in our lives), buddhi (the wisdom to accept what cannot be changed) and yukti (the ability to witness everything as a changing dream). His upadesha to us to witness everything as a changing dream – and to see what power that brings in our lives to be able to change the dream – was an exhilarating finale to the entire three days. It pulled everything together, at the same time pointing to new and limitless possibilities.
Before the Expo, I had been grappling with several questions: about my idea for a centre, my sadhana, relationships, and direction. Many things were up for grabs in my life, much of it in reflection of the great shake-ups happening all around us, these critical times of uncertainty at every level, socially, economically, spiritually. In the very first workshop I did at the Expo, Appreciative Enquiry, R. Sankarasubramanyan had set the tone by encouraging us to see the tremendous change-curve confronting us in this age as a possibilities-curve instead – not to fear uncertainty as a prelude to breakdown, but an exciting opening to whole new possibilities.
Now, at the end of the Expo, I was riding that wave. I had been looking for a centre, and now I was finding a centre growing in myself. Forgiveness, acceptance, self- acceptance, affirmation, gratitude, opening to the unknown, and riding its full-possibility curve.
Surely, not all my problems have been solved, but this is immaterial. There is a centre, and a direction – and I am the space in which it unfolds. What more needs to be known? I’m learning to be at home in the “gap”, and love it for its fullness – to melt down into the golden unknown, and ride the possibility-waves we catch at the Source of Creation. Thank you, Life Positive, for throwing me into the vortex – and the wonderful positive spin you put, in all ways, on these times of change!
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