On a lazy Sunday afternoon as I was browsing through my unread messages, I saw one from a friend with a simple message that said “check this out” along with a link. A little voice in my head said “this must be a link to one of the movie gossip website. Perfect!!” and I eagerly opened it up. It was the link to the Life Bliss Foundation channel on You Tube. I reluctantly clicked on that link, and a handsome young man in an orange robe talking about No Action. I am thinking to my self …. no action is a good thing? ….tell me more. I started watching one video which lead to the next and the next. I was hooked on this young guru who preached in a language that I could understand and relate to. He actually made spirituality seem cool. This perked my interest. As I started watching more and more of his videos I started to notice positive changes in my life. The more I listened the more sense He made . I attended his NSP session in LA in 2009 and decided I had to go to IA.
My job situation was unsteady at that time, and could not fathom how I could get the money to go to IA. On a suggestion of one of his disciples, I put in an intention in writing saying I want to attend IA and also prayed to him to make it happen. After I made my sincere wish and released it, I went about my life not thinking much about how I would get to IA. I just had a strong desire to attend. One day I got a call from one of the volunteers that Swamiji had blessed my intention to come to IA in April. I thought to myself, Yeah Right! I have no money and I am in the middle of finishing up my project, there is no way I can go. I told the volunteer “ Thanks ! but I don’t think this is a good time…I think I will come in December”. The volunteer was confused and said “But Swamiji has blessed you to come in April”. Little did I know then that when Swamiji says it, He means it. With no effort on my part, the money for the trip showed up and interestingly enough, I had the time to go as well. My project ended abruptly and my contract was terminated sooner than anticipated. All of a sudden I had time on my hands and the money for the trip. Although I was a little overwhelmed about the job situation, I decided to go with the flow. I packed my bags and off to Bidadi I went.
I had a wonderful time in Bidadi spending 21 days in close proximity of an Enlightened Master with 100 other people who were there for the same purpose. How often do you get a chance to be in a group of like-minded people pursuing the same goal? We were all there to accomplish one thing, to get rid of the junk and the baggage we were carrying over the years. Swamiji and his team of ashramites graciously provided a space of positive vibrations as we transformed from our old selves to ardent disciples fascinated by Swamiji’s relentless love and compassion. I learned not only from Swamiji but from the people I interacted with. I counted my blessings as I heard other people share their stories, I drew strength from the way other women handled challenges in their lives. I was fascinated by the total devotion and surrender of some of the devotees and was humbled watching people melt in Swamiji’s presence. Overall it was an amazing experience.
I now understand why Swamiji wants everybody to limit contact with the outside world and stay focused. The hospitality of the ashramites, the kind and gentle guidance of the ashramites, the genuine love and care from Ma Maneesha (class coordinator), the efficiency and hospitality of Ma Atmika, the amazing wholesome food, the calm and serene voice of Rishi Mitra (Yoga teacher) cajoling us to get moving in the morning and afternoon, the cool and energizing waters of the Vaidyasarovar, the peace and solitude under the Banyan tree….the campfire sessions with Swamiji….the pooja’s , the offerings, the Meenakshi Thirukalyaanam….the list goes on. Do you see the pattern here….peace, love, harmony, tranquility…sounds corny but that is exactly what I experienced there. We lived in spontaneity for 21 days which in itself was fascinating, especially since we live our lives on auto pilot in the digital age.
I left Bidadi light at heart and a much better person than I was when I came. I felt like I was on top of the world and nothing could bring me down. Little did I know then that “I” could single handedly bring my world down if I allowed myself to. The insecurities slowly kept creeping back, and the old habits of self doubt reared its ugly head. I was constantly in conflict betweeen my old and new selves. Every time I made an “informed decision” my mind would challenge it and push me into a state of confusion. There were many desperate emails and calls to Ma Maneesha who patiently talked me through it and gently pointed out to me that “I” was letting my mind control me. When I realized that “I” was the culprit holding on to old patterns of insecurity, I let go and surrendered. As soon as I let go, I repeat, as soon as I let go…..HE took over the reins. My life has been a fun ride ever since. Things fall in place beautifully and situations that seemed too complicated before seem so simple now. The outcome is not always what I want but it is always what’s best for me. I may not realize it at the moment but the end result is ALWAYS better than what I had envisioned. I was always curious about Ma Maneesha’s unwavering faith and devotion to Swamiji. I could never understand it. NOW I GET IT. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.
For those of you who are considering IA, GO FOR IT. It is a blessing of a lifetime. The experience is unparalleled, and believe me, you can never replicate that by just watching his videos and/or attending satsangs. If money is a concern, pray to HIM and ask for guidance. He will show you the way. If you have an issue with the cost of the program (like I did), you will realize that the results you get out of it is well worth the 6K. You would easily spend more than 6K on a vacation, which is just a distraction from the problems of your life which is going to be there when you get back. An 18 credit hour semester in college will cost you more than 6K.But at IA you get 21 days of the Masters undivided attention and will learn something that can never be taught in a university. I can come up with many examples of cost comparison but it really does not make sense because it would be like comparing apples to oranges. All I want to say is have faith and just do It! YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!
For those of you who think you are better off using that money on your kids….the changes that happen to you during IA will make you a more effective, loving, understanding and selfless parent….which is the best gift you can give your kid. I know my kids appreciate the changes in me.
Personally my life has changed on many levels, relationships, health, wealth, career …to name a few. I choose not share the happenings in my life because each one has his/her own experience which is unique to them and I do not want to give them something to compare to. But one thing is for sure IA has had a very positive impact on me, the changes are subtle yet so profound. It does not happen overnight but it DOES happen. Swamiji will light the lamp within and all you need to do is to just open your heart to receive and letting go with faith and trust.
As Swamiji aptly says “ Life is Joy” and my life is now joyful.
Thank you Swamiji, Dhyanapeetam, Ashramites, Volunteers, Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis for making this happen.
– VIJI SAGAR, Washington DC, Inner Awakening – April 2011