Sadhanapada: A rebirth

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?”

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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!

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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.

 

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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I would like to throw light upon certain misconceptions that some people usually have or the Society has-

  1. 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.” 
  2. 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.
  3. Renunciation
    • 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. Life
    • 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

 

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Links and videos about Sadhanapada

Registration Link: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/volunteer/sadhanapada

Further, please check Sadhanapada – Sadhanapada Tips and Guidelines on how best to prepare for the program. Read through this very descriptive post that would answer most of your queries!

So are you ready for transformation and to delve within yourselves?

 

 

Am I lucky enough to travel?! Aren’t you?

‘Oh you are so lucky, you are traveling?’

‘I don’t know how you do it!”

‘You are living the life!’

‘Keep traveling while you are single! I don’t think I can’

‘You are young, travel more!’

‘You are freelancing, right? You have the time! I don’t have the time with work’

Hmmm, these are a few of the responses/ quip I get from strangers, acquaintances and friends!

These are quite amusing yet annoying at times because it is not big a deal!

So here goes, I am going to give away the other side of the story….. not to make it sound boring or scary but for the fact that traveling is possible by anyone and you need not be lucky but passionate!

  1. For starters, being single doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, family, commitments and work. At the end of the day, I have to work around these for being able to travel. My toughest times have been at convincing my folks for my travel! 😉
  2. I am not rich that I can afford traveling now and then. I have to work, earn and save for being able to travel and explore the places galore. Trust me, my bank account balance hasn’t seen a decent amount in the past couple of years! I am not kidding! Security is far far away!
  3. Being a freelancer, doesn’t mean I am free! It means that I take up work according to my pace, situation and variety and the amount of work involved etc. And of course it is not a fad and is more than a 9-5 job; considering multiple commitments, clients, projects and being a one-woman army is quite tasking!
  4. Age doesn’t have to do anything with travel! If you are interested and want to really explore a place, just get out of your comfort zone- you will surely be able to do it! Well I have seen elderly people from across the globe take to traveling from all walks of life. The smile and gratitude on their face, inspires me to keep traveling  forever- like even when I am way tooooo old!
  5. Frankly, I am not lucky. I am grateful for the things I have and work towards making the best of what I can do and go traveling- for it is my passion! If you are passionate about traveling and exploring the unknown- I am sure, you already know- Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it!

So,  I haven’t written the above because I found the statements/responses offensive but for the fact that ‘I am not lucky’ but I do work towards getting what I want.

I am blessed and grateful to make the best of what I have with utmost passion and reverence!

Or in other words, we are all lucky that we are in this beautiful world! What you make of it or how you explore all depends on what you really want!

Well, next time you think about wanting to travel, think of how passionate and focused are you for wanting to do it(nah nothing about luck) and just get on with it!

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Well, the joy of being a part-time yogi!

I remember three years back, my first tryst with Yoga turned out to be a sour puss. I used to go to a certified Yoga practitioner in the vicinity. The classes were held in the evenings and I drudged my body twice a week to all the weird poses and stretches. My body ached and mind did wallow in the stillness for at least a while. But, it seemed a boring affair after a month that I quite stopped going all of a sudden. With all due respect to the teacher, I felt Yoga was not for me.

Yoga, PC: Instagram
PC: Instagram

About six months back, I apprehensively went through a course which indulged in Yoga and Meditation too. Quite surprisingly, I took to it like a duck takes to water. Well, maybe I needed to be ready to take on a Guru who would light the path; the path of realization! This happened well in time or should I say at the opportune time for things were clearer from then on.

I write about this not because I want to propagate Yoga or want everyone to take on Yoga, I am sure you are wise enough to decide for yourself!

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My recent visit to Adiyogi, ISHA Yoga Center, Coimbatore, India

I want to put forth a few simple things or thoughts that have changed me for the better over these few months of practising Yoga.

  1. I have felt an amazing sense of freedom irrespective of what my situation is.
  2. Life is beautiful and miraculous; you would agree with me if you have touched upon the inner journey.
  3. We are all travellers on this Earth. Birth and Death are mere pit-stops.
  4. We have come here alone and going out alone; prestige, wealth, fame, societal norms won’t travel with you- they are not important.
  5. All the treasures and answers are within you. Mind and Body are merely there to assist us in the simple transactions of life.
  6. The purpose of life on this Earth- Know Thyself, while you are at it- enjoy what this world offers.
  7. Compassion and humility are the keys for a better life.
  8. An action arising from the very sinews of the Infinite makes way for a more truthful and healthy life.
  9. Being ever engrossed in Sadhana be it the work you do or simple acts of service or just being meditative( your practises, your work, your hobby) gets you on the path of the divine.
  10. Most importantly, live in the moment for this is the now!

I have just mentioned a few thoughts that have ran across my mind now. But there are more subtle and amazing things which I have not expressed as I want and hope this journey for you is as intriguing and mind boggling as it has been for me.

Well bottom line, Yoga has changed me in and out. My whole perception has changed and it has been a significant revelation and it makes me want to enjoy this life to the fullest!

Phew, this International Yoga Day I am talking about the beauty of Yoga and the miracles of life that it augments; I quite cannot believe this 🙂 Well let’s call it a miracle too!

 

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Do you practise Yoga? How has been your journey? Enlighten me…..

 

 

 

 

 

Life #AtoZChallenge

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Life

I have come to realize that Life isn’t about growing up, getting educated, working on a job, paying bills, having a family and then one fine day dying!

The above things are just part of your life but not LIFE!

I have lately come to realize or realizing that Life is a celebration when you know LIFE is all there is, that is the miracle and the truth!

I have so bluntly put in the above sentence but Life is the journey into oneself, your magnanimous self, the inner you and I think once I fathom that or more so feel it, there is nothing but Joy. All the walls, castles, illusions just fade away…..

I am on this Journey.. I am getting there. Will let you know more once I do.

So, what is your take on this?

TRIUND, An abode amidst the clouds!

Dhauladhar range
Dhauladhar range…

“You cannot go! It is dangerous. The weather is bad. You cannot see the path, you will get lost! Read this notice….”

My friend and me stared at the Hotel concierge as he said the most discouraging words. He kept aside the tray which he was carrying and waited for our decision for the D day.

We read the most saddening Govt. Notice for trekkers, climbers to not get atop the mountain in harsh rainy conditions. And to take a local guide along  the trail.

It was raining cats and dogs, McLeodganj seemed to be on a high!

We asked about the Guide whereabouts to which the concierge happily gave the details and made sure that we won’t leave without the guide. 🙂

As the rain pelted against the window panes, we shared the news with our third fellow trekker.

After analysing the pros and cons, we decided to take on the trail but with a guide after all, trekking in the rains on the Himalayas is a risky affair all the more!

We hit the sack hoping that the next day was sunny enough to make it to the beautiful Dhauladhar ranges.

Morning turned out to be sunny and magnificent! The quaint town of McLeodganj was getting ready for the usual hustle bustle after a heavy downpour. But we did get a guide who accepted our proposal to take us along and we headed for the trail right away.

Triund trek is the most beautiful and scenic trek in Himachal Pradesh. The trek starts from Galu Devi temple, 2 km ahead of McLeodganj. Nestled in the Kangra valley, it offers a hike through Deodar, Rhododendron forests and of course gives a magnanimous view of the mighty Dhauladhar range and the Kangra valley.

Clouds passing by the Dhauladhar range
Clouds passing by the Dhauladhar range

We met our guide who happened to be very courteous and we gained insight about Himachal Pradesh as well through him. We started the hike close to 9:45 AM after registering our names at the Start point, a protocol closely followed by the Forest Department.

After an hour’s walk along the deodar trees, rhododendron trees we reached a stony path from where we could see the Dharamsala Cricket stadium, the stadium at the highest altitude in India at about 4780 feet above sea level.

Further walk through stony paths, we reached the Magic View Cafe which is the oldest cafe. A cup of hot tea soothed our throats and energized us for the rest of the journey. The clouds played around and brought in a slight chill to the air around. Being a Monday not many trekkers, local crowd were present on the trail. But a lot of them were on the way back after spending the  Sunday night at Triund Hill.

Triund Trail
Triund Trail

The stony path was now damp owing to a nearby small waterfall. But when it rains, the path would be very risky to tread upon. The villagers who were on the trail, time and again advised us not to walk at the edge of the path owing to uneven ground and loose stones.

As we hiked up the hill we came across yet another cafe Scenic View. With tad bit of a rest we hiked towards the last leg of the trail- The famous 22 curves before the Triund peak. It was a hike along stony paths, mushroom laden trunks of trees, lovely flowers with the mesmerising dew on the petals. The clouds did cover the trail on and off.

Lovely colorful Mushrooms on a fallen tree...
Lovely colorful Mushrooms on a fallen tree…

After a hiking for four hours, I reached the peak. A lush green meadow ran across the hill. A couple of cafes were present which catered to the needs of the few then trekkers.

The TRIO at the Triund Peak
The TRIO at the Triund Peak

As we strolled about the meadow, the clouds impulsively gave way to the Himalayas. The slightly snow clad Dhauladhar ranges came into view. It was a marvelous sight. As the clouds played about, we could catch a glimpse of Mcleodganj, Bhagsu way below.

Meadows, Ranges, Clouds at Triund Hill
Meadows, Ranges, Clouds at Triund Hill

After a sumptuous lunch of Roti, Rice and yummy Dal, we headed towards our tent with a view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges towards the side.

For our Siesta!
For our Siesta!

After a long stroll up and down the meadow, we retired for the night under a cloudy sky. We woke up to a not so cloudy day and welcomed the sunrise!

Sunrise atop Triund!
Sunrise atop Triund!

As we bid goodbye to the ranges and the valley, McLeodganj ushered us to explore the quaint town and the Dalai Lama Temple…. More on in the next post….

Well that was the end to the lovely Triund trek. Plan for it and enjoy the enthralling journey and the lovely mountains of course!

I want to travel! Where do I start?

Well most of us have had this question ringing in our heads when we have an impulsive drive to just head out somewhere but then the thought wanders about for a while, only to surrender to the confines of the comfort zone!

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PC:Pinterest

 

Ever experienced this?

Well to all the procrastinators, comfort zoners and just about any one who has put off a travel…. here are a few things to DO (random order) when you have the WANDERLUST!

  1. Choose a place- WHERE? It could be a place that you have been wanting to go since ages, it could be the first place that comes to your mind now, it could be a place of your dreams provided it is on this planet 😉 Or you could research any travel blogs, travel diaries of frequent travelers, travel magazines or websites.
  2. Now I guess you have the place ready…. it is time to plan out the ‘WHEN?’ Find out the best time to visit the place you have chosen. If it is the peak period, you might want to avoid it if you want to be away from the crowd 😉 (Introvert Traveler talking :D) But yes if you want to enjoy the place in its magnanimous self, then hop on and make the most of it and don’t worry about the crowd (they could add to your advantage)
  3. So, BUDGET… I hope you selected the place keeping in mind the budget you have in your pocket 😉 Just kidding ….. well I am not! By all means, if you are lacking some amount, save up. Well if you choose to just land in the place and figure the rest from there, so be it. There are many options like couchsurfing, working on the go, sharing the travelling costs with a fellow traveller….. Well if you put your mind to it you will come across one or the other adventurous way….
  4. NOW book your transportation tickets- flight, train (certainly well ahead to confirm your seat and to save some money on early bird bookings). Also, if you are planning on staying in hotels, resorts, home-stays, traveler bungalows book it! Well again if you happen to be a traveller, land in the place and figure your way out.
  5. Lastly, the biggest thing to do. Well, I should have put this at the first 😉 Nahh! Convince the stakeholders- Boss, Team members, Family and of course Parents! God bless you, if you have Indian parents….. It is really really hard a job to convince them completely… try to convince them a bit atleast. All the best!
  6. Oh I forgot… Travel WITH? You could tag along with your family, friends, like-minded travelers or just about YOU being on a vacation alone! Try it! Traveling Solo and finding fellow travelers on the way is in vogue but more so you learn a lot about the world around you and about yourself! (There goes your reward!) If you are travelling with a travel tour company/agency/organization you are bound to find many fellow travellers so don’t beat yourself on going solo!

Well if you want to just be a traveler to the core, travel about anywhere, anywhen, anyhow, anywith and try to figure out a way where your heart and mind leads you to.

So, get going NOW! There is NO later, a sweet period, the right time, the leisure time, the retirement time! Sorry, you may not be alive to reach these fancy times.

It is the NOW time. Make it NOW! Travel NOW!Explore NOW!

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PC:Pinterest

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