Talking Stick Festival, February 2015
I’ll begin by giving you some context on my life…
In the winter of 2014, I was depressed and anxious and I had a whole list of things and people I was conflicted about. I felt so much shame and guilt about the way I lived my life and I couldn’t understand why. I tried to make myself feel better in every way: counseling, gym, sports, healthy eating, meditation, supplements, playing with my cats. The life I fantasized about as a child, the life I thought I would have, didn’t happen when I graduated from university in the spring. Even all my achievements felt useless and only temporarily exciting. Nothing filled the void.
I felt tormented by my default antisocial behaviour, but I couldn’t stop myself. I was constantly trying to avoid the consequences of my choices. I felt I was drowning and asphyxiated by my own hands.
This was nothing new, by the way. I first became depressed at twelve years old. As a teen, I began to be argumentative and harm my self. After a while, I accepted anxiety and depression as an inevitable part of my life.
Out of body experiences
A couple years prior, during a period of my student life, I had two bizarre experience that I could not understand. Although my body was sleeping, I felt conscious, inside my apartment at night. For some reason, I decided I wanted to visit my mom and dad. I arrived at their house immediately, which is 900km away, and saw this strange-looking being in their kitchen. I became frightened, and as soon as I thought of going back home, I was in my bedroom, crawling into bed, and the instant I had laid down beside my sleeping boyfriend, I woke up!
The second time, it was the early morning of a summer day and I felt myself hovering or floating just above my body in bed. I didn’t want to open my eyes at first because I was scared, but when I did, I could see everything crystal clear in the morning light even though I normally wear glasses. During this event, I felt a strange weightlessness. Then I “woke up”and resumed my regular consciousness.
Those experiences scared the crap out of me, but I was also curious. I searched for answers anywhere I could, to find an explanation for what I had experienced. I went to local meditation groups, Googled and found out they were called out-of-body experiences, and started watching Youtube videos on spirituality in my free time.
One day, Swarupapriya’s video popped up in the “Recommended” section of my Youtube feed. She was known then as Sudevi. Why was this white girl wearing a bindi and saris? She looked interesting, even if politically incorrect (according to cultural-appropriation-concerned me), so I started watching her videos on crystals and tarot cards. She talked an awful lot about a 21-day spiritual retreat called Inner Awakening and her guru, but it never really interested me. I liked the white Hindu girl’s stories of extraterrestrials and visions. Turns out she was also Canadian, attended the very same art school I was enrolled in, and even had a job reading tarot cards just down the street from the university. How could this person, who was so alike in her worldly experiences as me, have so many amazing experiences?
Back to winter 2014: I’m a ball of depression and anxiety. And I suddenly remember Paramahamsa Nithyananda, the guru that Swarupapriaya was always talking about. I rewatched many of her videos where she mentions Swamiji and Inner Awakening, as I tended to tune out when she spoke on these subjects. For whatever reason, I felt that Swamiji could help me.
However, I couldn’t understand some of the terminology that Swamiji spoke of in His Youtube discourses and I wasn’t accustomed to His Tamil accent. I searched the Internet and found His book Living Enlightenment, downloaded the PDF, and was instantly hooked.
Every word quenched the extreme thirst of my being. Living Enlightenment was as an oasis to the barren land of my suffering. In that book, Swamiji gives many meditation techniques and truths to His readers. I tried a bunch of them, one of which I particularly loved! It was very simple: You sit with your eyes closed and hum intensely for 21 minutes. This is a technique for opening the anahata chakra, the heart centre. I did this meditation before going to roller derby practice one night, and I could feel the tension in my heart just melt. During practice, I was killing it! All that balled-up tension inside turned into energy that made practice satisfying, productive, and fun! I even got a bunch of compliments from my league mates when I nailed the skating techniques. I thought this stuff really works!
Next, I found a short 12-minute Nithya Yoga video on Youtube. I started doing it a few times a week, and I lost 5 lbs without having changed anything about my diet or exercise habits. First I experienced my heart melting, and now the pounds melting. I was convinced.
Strangely, every time I opened the Living Enlightenment book, the area between my brows started to pulse and throb. When I stopped reading, the peculiar pulsing would also stop. During reading Living Enlightenment or doing the Nithya Yoga video, I could feel this subtle, silky, pleasant energy inside me. Later on, I would find out this energy is called kundalini.
I started losing my taste for meat. We used to get fancy grass-fed bacon from the butcher just up the street, but to my own surprise, I started finding it increasingly unappetizing.
When I Googled “Paramahamsa Nithyananda Vancouver,” I found out that there was a local centre that held weekly live satsangs via 2-way video conferencing. One day, I just showed up to the address listed on the website. It was just a short bike ride away from my house, so why not? I was greeted by a lovely tall woman who welcomed me while the devotees recited Sanskrit mantras during puja, the ritual of gratitude for the Master. She gave me the orange, the prasadam, from the puja. One thing that caught me off guard was the sight of a devotee “vibrating,” for lack of a better word. Up to this point, I’d never seen that before, and it kind of freaked me out. I was even too shy to ask about it. Again, I would come to know that every one’s bodies react different to the kundalini energy, which is awakened by the powerful presence of the Master. Even through video conferencing! I kept going to satsang, and the idea of traveling to India to meet Paramahamsa Nithyananda started making a lot of sense to me. After all, He had already done so much good in my life without even meeting Him.
Somewhere in the Living Enlightenment book, Swamiji wrote that you know He is your Master if you cannot forget Him. I didn’t know a thing about gurus or enlightenment, all I knew is I could never forget Him!
In January 2015, I called my mom to tell her I wanted to go to India to meet this guru. Then one day, during satsang, Swamiji announced that He would be initiating everyone into the power of the third eye in May 2015! I’d always been interested in gods, goddesses, ancient worlds, mysticism, and so-called “occult” powers… it was literally like a dream come true. I had to go! I couldn’t have fathomed what would happen in the spring when I finally met Swamiji. It was far more than I ever expected or dreamed of…I’ll talk about that in my next entry!
Let me know if you have any comments or questions, and I can answer you in my next post!
Living Enlightenment is available for free download here: http://lifeblissprograms.org/e-books/pdf/le_abridged.pdf
The Nithya Yoga video I mentioned earlier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVx2qUCPMpU
Ma Nithya Swarupapriya’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY6_zUajG2jsIfghOB_YNkA