It was about three years ago, in the month of April, on a Sunday. It was not one of those fancy, suspense-filled, low-lit, high voltage environments where a few spiritual masters looked at the few students who awaited to be initiated, judging. It wasn’t the types Paulo Coelho or Dan Brown write in their famous books (The Pilgrimage and Inferno, respectively) – the ones that make you feel “special”. It wasn’t one of those hush-hush events of my life, or the highly anticipatory moments when you feel you’re just about to enter into another world, a world you kept looking for and knew deep in your heart, existed.
It felt as normal to be sitting there in the Inner engineering program, as it would have been to go anywhere else on a Sunday, as part of a program I had enrolled for. It seemed like something anyone of us could do, nothing that I was destined for, or chosen, or any such, which is normally heard of or read in books about being ‘initiated’ into a spiritual practice. (Up until that point in my life, every single person who had been initiated into various practices, when spoken to, had made me feel they were special, different, chosen, in some way. It seemed like something to be worked towards, and received only upon hard work.) But none of those thoughts touched me, on that eventful Sunday. It seemed like the initiation would just be the ” culmination” of the program, one that would let me experience what we had learnt over the last seven days, in totality. I didn’t have any lofty expectations.
In fact, the sole reason I signed up for inner engineering was this video.
A friend of mine, K and I always discussed at length about how some of the smartest people in the world consumed alcohol and how it didn’t seem to affect their smartness, and we would keep wondering what would happen if we decided to indulge in the same. (Smartness being in question. :D) So I was thoroughly kicked to hear Sadhguru say that this practice would help us take better decisions in life (be smarter). I was sold. Anyway, I digress.
The initiation of Shambhavi Mahamudra is an experience in itself. It is unique to each of us like our DNA, and therefore the effects of it, is vastly varying. While I recollect some of my batchmates claiming that their cigarette quota had gone down drastically during the course of the program, without any conscious effort on giving it up; I also recollect some of the folks walking up and claiming that there had been no major change in their lives except for the reduction in hours of sleep and consumption of food. I wasn’t interested in any of these things. Greed is not one of my sins, and I don’t smoke. So it didn’t really matter.
And then, the initiation happened. To put it simply, this was my second brush with what should ideally have been the after effects of consumption of alcohol. I wasn’t just buzzed, I was a total goner! Interestingly enough, my first brush with such an after-effect wasn’t because of a drink (or a dozen) either. It was a result of climbing up to the top of Leaning Tower of Pisa, which did the job. Anyway, being the person that I was, who didn’t enjoy feeling out of control and experiencing bliss (is that the word?, I wondered that day) on a level that seemed to be too stimulating for me, I wasn’t amused. Instead of being overjoyed, my initial response was fear. I didn’t think I could handle it if I would be that high on a daily basis.
Even as the program coordinators, the volunteers (Isha is a volunteer-run organisation), and my fellow participants went about sharing their stories, of which some were entertaining, some inspiring and some belonging to the category that I classified as never-gonna-happen-to-me, I mentally made note of keeping up the practice on alternate days only. It seemed like that would do the trick for me. I also distinctly remember feeling eternally grateful for those volunteers whose active engagement with Isha meant that I could experience Shambhavi for myself. That feeling hasn’t changed, even though time has gone by.
Three years, a little volunteering, all the advanced programs, some unexpected encounters, and a daily dose of bliss later…
Looking back at that day, I can only wonder if I knew what Inner Engineering would make me as a person. I can only wonder if I realised then, that three years later, Shambhavi Mahamudra would stand out as one of the most life-enriching practices I have ever encountered (Not that I have dabbled with any other meditation practices, but I refer to workouts, running and such in my comparison. No amount of games or running or workouts could equal this in experience.) I can only search for words to describe how it has altered my life’s direction, and fail to find them. Sometimes, the big stuff come in small (twenty-one minute) packages!