It was the winter of 2016 when I had hit the wall and was truly longing for something unknown to come into my experience! And the thought and questions which constantly rebounded in my head ever since I was a kid gained momentum- “Well there is something more to Life! How do I find out? Who is going to guide me?”
To recap, the questions about life was something which I always pondered as a kid but this longing did get lost in the mundane cycle: of getting good grades, of getting degrees, finding the security of a high paying job and to get into the security of a steady relationship. Achievements, accolades, milestones lacked fulfillment. My Life then was a bunch of fleeting moments of happiness. I knew for sure this was not Life!
Ironically the word security is crippling as it snatches one the opportunity of exploring oneself or experiencing Life as is.
However, in early 2015 I did quit my job in the hope of exploring Life and more so indulged in the things I loved and forayed outside my comfort zone; blogging, traveling, fiction writing, photography, publishing my own coffee table book, working in a couple of startups as a content writer and quite recently freelancing in digital marketing.
While I was doing the above things outside my comfort zone there was something parallel which I had hit upon and this was giving me all the strength to do the things with utter ease.
So the winter of 2016 had passed and the beginning of 2017 brought me face to face to this program called Inner Engineering. A friend had suggested this and I thought, “Anyway this program is just for 7 days and that too for 3 hours only, let me give it a shot.” Trust me, I had no clue who Sadhguru was and I had not even watched any of his videos on YouTube.
Well, as they say when the student is ready, the Guru appears!
The program made utter sense to the logical mind that I had. My journey through Inner engineering is out here: My experience of Inner Engineering
Well, within the next couple of years I had completed all the advanced programs and I was waiting for this final advanced program called Samyama which is conducted by Sadhguru himself. The practices, the kriyas were working wonders in my Life and I knew the final program with Sadhguru would be utterly life-changing!
Fortunately I did get this opportunity in March 2019 and it was an experience which I cannot express and still cannot fathom but it brought me face to face with Life as is; sans illusion.
Even though I had been volunteering at Isha in Bangalore since 2017, I quite had this urge to explore myself in a more insightful conscious way, to serve as a volunteer and also to experience life in the Ashram at Coimbatore.
Well, this is when Sadhanapada fit the bill and it happened to be the right platform to enhance my Sadhana and the perfect opportunity to offer myself as a Volunteer.
Sadhanapada is a 7 months residential program offered by Sadhguru to enhance one’s Sadhana and also to volunteer in the Ashram. The only pre-requisite is that one should have completed the Inner Engineering program.
I had decided to go ahead with the program but when I broke the news to my family they were hesitant initially (agreed upon later) and a few acquaintances, relatives were aghast at the decision and they had the below questions:
- What do you get at the end of 7 months, considering you won’t be earning?
- Is the program going to train you on something from which you can earn money later on?
- Are you going to get any skills or become an expert in Yoga?
- Why do you go all the way out there to serve or volunteer when you can do it in your home?
- The organization is just getting young people to work in the name of volunteering for free, are you mad to go there?
- You have just started a successful freelancing business, why are you leaving it?
I couldn’t answer to the logical minds of people as to what tangible things I would get at the end of it all because what I would be experiencing is far from anything tangible.
I quite didn’t have the answers to the above and more so even if I wanted to try and explain that would be beyond comprehension or probably misunderstood, so I remained mum but my decision was unwavering.
My parents initially were perturbed and anxious but once they got to know that this was something that would make a difference to my life in a big way, they gave in and helped me in prepping up for the program ahead.
I was elated when the interview went well and I was eagerly waiting for the confirmation with each passing day. Finally I had received the confirmation message and I knew I was given the chance of a lifetime.
Come July 2019 and I was off to Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore.
The first month passed where I indulged in the orientation, adjusting to the intense schedule, getting to know the Ashram, working in my volunteering/Seva department and of course gearing up for the months ahead. I knew I had to cherish each moment and give 100% in whatever I did. I was grateful that I could enhance my Sadhana in the consecrated spaces of the Ashram and being in the Ashram was something I had always dreamt about. Well, it did come true and thanks to Sadhanapada for giving me the solace of a rebirth.
A day in the life of Sadhanapada:
Sadhanapada has been an intense program which has changed my life for the better. I had forgotten to enjoy life just as it is, thanks to the program that I am quite able to be joyful without any external things or distractions. It has taught me the very basics of how to lead a Life joyfully and I wish everyone goes through Sadhanapada.
I am fortunate to have shared this journey with my fellow participants from various walks of life. Some had left amazing opportunities, some high-paying jobs, some their loved ones only to learn and to know the being that they are. I am so grateful to have been a part of this program with such inspiring and motivating people.
These 7 months have given me so much that I wonder if I would have got these realizations / learnings in 7 lifetimes at all. Below are a few realizations which have come by:
- Be it in my previous companies or any work for that matter I used to work efficiently but there was some amount of compulsiveness that I always ended up having a burn out time and again but these 7 months has brought me to a point where whatever activity I am given, I do it with 100% involvement. There is no compulsiveness and I am not attached to the work I just complete it to the best of my abilities.
- My likes and dislikes have come down and I indulge in what is needed to be done no matter what it is. I have come face to face with my limitations and I consciously work on them.
- During my freelancing stint, I did have sufficient time to do the Kriyas and practices at home but somewhere I would miss out on some Kriyas if I had more work to cater to. But in these 7 months I learnt how to manage my time and balance both the Sadhana and Seva(my departmental work). The first couple of months I struggled but after that it I could manage it with ease.
- My day started at 3 AM and ended by 9:30 PM but I could go through Sadhana, Seva, daily chores with utter ease. I never used to get completely exhausted, well probably at times a bit tired on certain days but I was vibrant enough to go about the work that was needed to be done
- Apart from Sadhana and Seva we took part in a various programs, festivals. The times when we danced, played some games it felt like I was a kid again and I involved myself without any inhibitions and reluctance.
- The joy of volunteering is truly exhilarating. To serve, help, support, to do an activity without expecting anything in return is something I learnt here in Isha. The fulfillment that I received here is far more than what I received in any job that I was paid for.
- There were of course certain challenging circumstances with people and work. These ordeals helped me to see through myself, my limitations and above all to be compassionate to the person at the other end and understand from his/her point of view. This was quite a struggle and also a revelation and it took me sometime to understand this. Whatever be the situation, it is actually how I perceive and respond to it.
- The entire program helped me to see myself as is without any false identifications. The walls, the boundaries I had built for my security just evaporated and I was bare facing things and this felt liberating. Not being in control is such a blessed thing for you are free. This made me realize that I had been such a fool growing up.
- I don’t need any reason to be happy, I am joyful always. There is a certain stillness or rather a distance that has come by with the mind and body.
- I was faced with a personal emergency during the program. As I went to meet my family, the way I responded and behaved was something out of the ordinary and I knew things had transformed within me for the better. Though it was an unfortunate incident, it actually helped me to evaluate my growth and impact of the program. There was a strong reluctance from relatives, acquaintances (not my parents thankfully) that I stay back for the family and not complete the program as they considered it to be some unnecessary time-pass or a lame thing which I was doing(this wouldn’t have been the case if I was working abroad or doing my masters in a far off place – probably these have some credibility in their eyes). Though I was hurt that they felt this way, my commitment to the program didn’t waver. I didn’t feel the need to explain this to anyone albeit my parents and I resumed the program for I knew this was for my Life.
I would like to throw light upon certain misconceptions that some people usually have or the Society has-
- Going to an Ashram and being on a Spiritual path:
- Myth: If one goes to the Ashram, they will take on Bramhacharya, one will be hypnotised and eventually you will take up Sanyas.
- Fact: Ashram is a conducive place for one to learn, enhance one’s Sadhana and also learn to serve / volunteer. Of course one gets transformed but for the better. It is as Mahatma Gandhi quoted “We must become the change we wish to see in the world.”
- Age and Vocation
- Myth: Spirituality is for the old people and for people who are jobless
- Fact: With thousands of young people already dependent on antidepressants, medication for stress / anxiety due to the lifestyle, work habits – Yoga is the need of the hour. It is better to start working on one’s well-being at the earliest and to have a positive approach to life rather than having this thought on the death-bed. Yoga is a tool which would equip one to lead a better conscious life.
- Myth: If you are on a spiritual path, then you have to leave your family, be a celibate and head to an ashram or the mountains
- Fact: Yoga teaches one to be in balance and equips one with various tools to enhance one’s energies. This helps one tackle the challenges in the daily life with elan and to live life to the fullest and not just living a mundane life. It equips one to to take on Life and not run away from situations.
- Belief vs Seeking
- Myth: Learning yoga will make one religious and a Hindu
- Fact: Yoga is not a religion, it is a Science. Being on a Spiritual path is when you are choosing neither to be a religious fanatic(believing in God) nor an atheist(believing that there is no God) you are just being a third kind- A seeker – Trying to delve deep within to find out more about yourself and more so get in touch with the Truth!
- Source of Happiness
- Myth: Having a secure job, relationships, accolades, materialistic things is the source of happiness
- Fact: All the above may give you pleasure, happiness but it is only momentary and elusive. Being in Yoga makes one blissful. It doesn’t matter what challenges life throws at you, you will be able to handle things with elan while being happy and blissful. By growing materialistically or spiritually we are only trying to expand but spiritual expansion happens consciously not compulsively. Source of Happiness is within you!
- Myth: Life is Birth – Education – Job- Family – Death
- Fact: The above is a part of life but we think life is just that and we forget the opportunity to know ourselves and explore life. To delve within is the only way out
Why am I sharing this with you all?
It is quite hard for me to articulate the happenings and experiences within me and I know I couldn’t do so even if I had all the gamut of words at my disposal. The challenges of life are many and may cripple you or may leave you dejected and lost but when you are on a constant journey of seeking the inner dimension, the life challenges won’t matter and you will be able to handle anything that comes your way with ease. Life will seem amazing and you will rightfully know how to enjoy a day! I want you all to experience this dimension of Life.
Open to all from all walks of life
Sadhanapada is open to all – My fellow participants were from across the world from various walks of life; farmers, doctors, engineers, yoga enthusiasts, digital marketers, bankers, entrepreneurs, teachers, homemakers, students, architects you name it we were all a part of this program. Young and old made this program a wonderful experience. I am sure you must be wondering that it won’t be easy for you to take this decision to apply for this program. Trust me, give it a thought and if you really want to seek what this Life is about then think no more. Take the plunge, everything will fall into place; it is quite a curious miracle.
Thanks to the Ashramites, the Bramhacharis, the Bramhacharinis, the Teachers, the Volunteers to have welcomed us in the Ashram and for constantly taking care of us and guiding us throughout the program and much after that as well. The program wouldn’t have been possible without all their support. And I am so fortunate for this opportunity to have come by and quite can’t thank Sadhguru enough for making this a possibility.
Below are some glimpses, a few from Sadhanapada culmination.
Photo Courtesy: Isha Foundation
Links and videos about Sadhanapada
Registration Link: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/volunteer/sadhanapada
So are you ready for transformation and to delve within yourselves?