When I met Bhagavan, I was 26 or 27 years old and I had a one-year-old child. I was mostly at home alone with a small baby and I had only been in Goa for a year. I wanted to experience my body and āsana seemed like a great place to start. I loved yoga but at the time, yoga and meditation were separate from one another for me. Before that, I was practicing kuṇḍalinī yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. We didn’t have much choice in Russia at that time. There was Hatha yoga also but to tell you the truth, I was a very dynamic character and so I found it a little bit boring. Once I had an experience with kuṇḍalinī yoga, I thought I had found my path. Now I understand that instead of calming me down, this type of yoga made me more exaggerated and more emotional. At the time, I was young and always working with the body but then after having my baby, I just stopped. I didn’t know what to do. So when I met Bhagavan, I started to do āsana. I didn’t know much about the system. I had visited a few New Age Tantric workshops in Russia and it was always some practice in couples like couple meditation. When I started to do the Tri-doṣa āsana series of Shri Kali, I knew this was true classical Tantra. After our first session of Tri-doṣa, I understood this was about meditation. In the beginning, I found that it was very difficult for me to be there with closed eyes and for the whole three hours each afternoon. At this point, I realized that this must be something I needed to work on. For one year I practiced 3-4 times a week and slowly I started to understand what relaxation is after a year of this.
After a year and a half, I started to be interested in philosophy. I started to read about quantum physics and I began reading all the modern texts that Bhagavan suggested. For me āsana was an introduction and afterwards I became more interested in the traditional texts and Bhagavan’s masterpiece, Divine Initiation. The change comes slowly, first you start with the āsana, then you begin doing mantras, the pūjā, and study the philosophy and then it becomes a really nice combination. When I started to study full-time in Malaysia for a whole summer without my daughter, I never left my room other than for 3:30 PM āsana. I was just studying. Now I am ready for the philosophy. It gives me strength and it clarifies my thoughts and my brain. One of the things about Tantra is that without any imagination, you just see clearly. When you feel confident, are practicing āsana for a while and all of your thoughts are going in the right direction, then the rest follows.
It took time to understand this system and how it works, as it is a holistic and integrated system. It was difficult to understand how all of this comes together but after 6 months I understood that all the traditional schools work, but only after some time. You gain some inner experience and this inner experience is not going anywhere, it’s there all the time. All of the practices that I had been practicing before instead of giving benefits to my body were actually breaking me. They made my emotions high. Many kinds of yoga now seem to be about making you high, but yoga should be a much deeper process than that. It’s about understanding yourself and your inner reality and this takes time. This system slowly built me from the inside. Now there is a solid foundation in me. Once I saw this solid foundation inside of myself, I started interacting with life differently. Of course there are good and bad things in life but now I just react normally from a place of strength from within. This is the main thing Shri Kali gave me, this solid foundation of my inner world. In gaining this, I lost my weakness; I was no longer reacting to situations.
Many things have changed about me after studying and practicing in this system. I am still learning how to be a good human being but many things have changed. I had a lot of neurosis. We don’t really speak about all the problems that we drop here, but all of a sudden one day you just notice that the problems disappear. I used to have a lot of fears but most of these fears are gone along with my conditionings and limitations. Before, it is as if I was living in a box and I just kept putting one condition in after another but then I stepped out of the box and the conditions no longer have a box to be put in to. For Tantric people, there are no limitations; it is all possible. When I speak to Bhagavan and I hear about his life experience, I am amazed, as he has done so many things in his life. I always notice when he speaks he has no sort of limitations or conditionings in his brain. He is open to everything. Psychologically speaking, just from practicing āsana for one year here, it had deep changes in me that I didn’t even realize. I stopped being so neurotic and I started being more relaxed. These basic things can change your whole life. Slowly many fears subsided. You build yourself and you start to see the world more clearly all the time. I started to attract good people in my life. I began to understand what I wanted in life as my confusion disappeared. I started to do new things for work, trying this business or that business, things I wouldn’t have done before. I started to have more courage. I began to really live my life. It has a lot to do with the hormones actually. Once you balance your hormone system you don’t have ups and downs any more. My emotions used to be so up and down and I thought this was normal because so many others were like this. I thought happiness was only momentary and that you couldn’t be happy all the time. But when I met Bhagavan and started practicing, after one year, I forgot about depression. From time to time I can be sad because I am human and situations happen but more or less, I am happy inside all the time now, I am quiet inside. Before, I remember when I would start to have depression that all of a sudden the world didn’t have any colors. I don’t allow this anymore. I can be sad for two hours maximum but then that’s it. Once I started to spend time with Bhagavan, he would energize me like a battery. In the beginning, I would have little bits of happiness but what was surprising is that over time this happiness took over the whole day. I didn’t believe Bhagavan when he said that I would be happy all the time. But I slowly realized the happiness wasn’t going anyway.
Last year my father died very suddenly from cancer. He found out a month before he died that he had cancer. Shri Kali Ashram helped me a lot in understanding what death is and after that I also dropped one of my strongest fears, to lose my parents. Even when I saw my father dying, I was not crying. Inside, I actually was at peace. I flew in to Moscow from India and in the same day, I went to visit him in the hospital. He saw me, he lost his vision within 10 minutes and then he died within three hours of seeing me. In our Russian culture, when someone is dying it is a big drama. For me, it was like a ceremony. In traditional cultures, there are ceremonies and mantras for many things in life, such as death, and in fact it is actually even a celebration. It was more painful to accept death before I came to see my father but then when I came I just saw it for what it was. Some people keep the pain inside until they become ill. To get rid of any kind of pain inside, you need to have knowledge. When you have knowledge, you understand there is nothing we can do. Even with death, I too will die soon. I met his death without drama as a celebration.
This system is complete: Not one aspect do I love more than the other. I really look forward to translating Divine Initiation in to Russian and I am continuing to enjoy the philosophy. I like that this system opened my eyes to such quality. What we have in the western world for yoga actually causes more distraction and sensitivity. You need to also develop your brain through meditation. What modern schools are doing is trying to shut down your brain so that you only follow your heart, but they don’t know what the heart is exactly so then it is only emotions and when you follow your emotions, you become more confused. Awareness is when your whole body is functioning and when your mental state is calm but also functioning. In the West now they are also beginning to teach some philosophy of yoga but all I see is a lot of aggression because it comes from a place of competition. You have to relax. Once you are relaxed, then you can start analyzing yourself just enough but not enough to beat yourself up. You have to understand sometimes that you are wearing a mask. It is like the lotus flower, you slowly open for yourself. You can’t just shut down your mind; you have to work with everything. That is what makes this system so beautiful, that it is integrated. Now I have a practice for a lifetime that gives me happiness and balance. I have a steady philosophy that I don’t need to believe any more. It has become factual inside of me. What else do I need?