The first couple of months after I came to Shri Kali for the first time were confusing, but I did have a feeling of what I was looking for What was trying to go in to me was met with suspicion and mistrust. I think because of previous experiences with other systems and as just a person of the modern day world, there was a big suspicion of religion. I am always checking, have I joined a religious cult? But then after 2 months or so, things started to fall in to place.
When I was doing āsana, the concept of the world around me began to change. I had a sense of everything moving around me, yet I saw in a colorful-picture-kind-of-way, how this was tying in with the philosophy that we were learning about. I remember when I was in primary school, I wanted to be an astronaut and I wanted to know what was at the end of the universe. It really bothered me. I had got this book by Steven Hawking and there was this picture of the universe and the picture was in a square and the universe was this kind of egg-shaped thing lying on its side in a white background and I decided the universe was the white background but then I wondered what the white background was? This didn’t answer my question. This just gave me another question. I remember, every time I tried to ask a question, such as “what is this made of?” it just created more questions. Every time the question would be answered such as, “well that is made of atoms”, another question would arrive, “so then what are the atoms made of?” I always felt unsatisfied with all of the gaps in my picture of existence.
However, in doing the āsana and being in this system, I felt myself in the picture and without any gaps. The brief experience that I had in those two months was starting to make things more complete. I was no longer dissatisfied with my understanding of life and the world around me. This was a really reassuring feeling. I was feeling that things around me were within my concept and that the gaps were being filled in. I felt more whole for having a more whole picture. So, I stayed a bit longer to try and fill in this picture a bit more. Yet, then I disappeared for two years and ten months! I always had it in my mind that the time wasn’t right to keep building more than just a little bit here and there. But now I have come back and things are falling in to place really quickly. More and more, I am losing that feeling of mistrust. That feeling of fear and suspicion is dissipating. Every day, I feel closer to letting things in and letting things happen in this system. It is not that I am under siege anyways (hahaha); I don’t need to put up my defenses. I can still take it or leave it and in ten years if I decide this doesn’t work for me, then I can leave it. However, I don’t think that is going to happen.
Just last night at Bhajan things came together really quickly and although it was a really happy song, I had tears streaming down my face in a beautiful way. I realized, I didn’t have to learn the full Vedic sciences or all of Sanskrit, that there were lots of different ways in this system to have it sink in to me. If you like yoga and you like music, then you can reprogram yourself as well. You could simply do āsana and go to bhajan and receive the same benefits. Of course learning the meaning of what is being sung also really helped. In Sanskrit we learned the meaning of the mantras of what we were singing so that during Bhajan, I was able to understand. I was amazed as I realized, we are reprogramming ourselves by bringing the philosophy in to us, through music.
Originally, I came to Shri Kali because I had been dissatisfied by the answers that I had gotten from a previous system, both in my questioning of existence and the world and in what was right for me. It didn’t work with my body or my psyche. And again I would end up with more questions than answers. It occurred to me that I should go back to the roots, something as traditional as possible and something that is as much from its origin as possible. That is how I found this place. It became apparent that that is what this is: If you are looking for the origin then it is hard to get any closer than here.
The way that I look at the world around me is how I have changed the most. If you start to understand the way that the philosophy explains the world around you; and you start to have an understanding of subject and object; that everything is made up of everything and everything is different expressions of the same source, that it is not made and it is not destroyed, then there is a new feeling of permanence. I feel permanent as myself, and it changes the way that I look at my life. I no longer see my story as nothing, and then I was 80 years of existence, and then nothing again. I am part of a much wider system. My soul has no end. If you change the way that you relate to your life and your day, then you change the way that you relate to your idea of the whole world and of other people. I have a greater sense of how I am not just my 80 years in this version of my consciousness and this puts everything in to a much greater perspective. I relate to everything in a completely different way.
Anything that I did come in to contact with previously to what I am studying now at Shri Kali seemed like merely a diluted version of what I study now. My relationship to yoga has changed, in that I am learning to be more of myself when I practice. It’s kind of tricky to leave behind the idea that I should do this and I should do that. However, I am leaving it behind more and more. Doing āsana ‘for exercise’ or even ‘because it is good for my psychology’, or the notion that ‘I am healing myself by doing āsana’, all of these ‘reasons to do āsana’ would also have to be dropped and then every time I would drop yet another ‘reason’ why I do āsana, something else would come up in its place again. But I think eventually I will get to a place where I am far closer to being rather than doing. It is a continual process of finding your habits that are not that helpful and then getting rid of those habits. In the grand scheme of things I am looking towards just having at least a brief moment of not ‘trying to be productive’ or ‘trying to work on myself’, etc… In a way, I am trying to work on myself but every time I catch myself noticing that, I have to remind myself to relax. When I first came here, I was like a little cat, in that every time you look at it, it jumps. I didn’t realize that I was in that sort of constant state of stress before I came. When we are lying on the floor upstairs, I just remind myself, relax, and that’s enough.
I love the meditative feeling in yoga. The thing that I missed most since I have been away is that part of this yoga that you cannot find in other yoga systems when you are being guided by someone that you trust to guide you through the practice and you can relax so completely. That feeling is the experience of just being able to relax and be with yourself. It is a feeling that I am not supposed to be able to put in to words and I can’t seem to, because it really has no words to describe it. It is experiencing the thing that has no words to describe it… that is my favorite part of this system. Trying to put words to this feeling, limits the feeling.
Teaching has quite often been the highlight of my week and it has been the nicest thing that I have done for myself in the week. I think even in the last couple of years, which have been particularly challenging, it has been the glue that has kept everything together. That is the experience of teaching so far. Now I need to make it so that I already have the glue that holds things together and that I am giving it without needing to give because I am getting what I need from myself. It wasn’t my intention to teach to nourish myself but to nourish others, and I know that I nourish other people as well because my students relate that back to me. Yet the experience has been that I am also nourished with every class that I teach. If I have been exhausted after work or stressed or sad about something it is guaranteed that I will be a different person after teaching.
The other day I asked for testimonials for my new website and I got one back from one of my students who had been on many painkillers and through doing this series of āsana she has stopped taking all of them and what she realizes now is that what her body needs now is this yoga. She also said that since she had been coming, that it had been the source to get through difficult times which is what I get from it. Another woman had swollen feet and just after coming to two classes a week, she dropped a shoe size and lost weight and made it in to a shoulder stand which was really huge for her.