Sadhana Intensive: A Journey We Took
by Supreet K. Singh (Ganga)
What you seek my love is inside you, so dig deep my love dig a little more deep, pick up a brush and colour it reap, the beginning of you, so beautiful so true, so dig deep my love dig a little more deep, see what makes you what you really seek.
The following are some of the thoughts, that invoked the presence of so many of us at the Sivananda Ashram, Madurai, to experience the world of intense sadhana.
Surrendering our ‘baggage,’ and ‘unlearning’ what we had already learned, was not as great a challenge as developing self-discipline, becoming a disciple. A group of almost forty yoga siromanis (teacher training graduates) and yoga acharyas (advanced teacher training graduates) were here to practise asanas and pranayamas on our own without the presence of our guru. This seemed a daunting prospect.
We had a mix of yogis who ranged from silent introverts to talkative preachers. Some of us were seriously inclined to live in our own space for the full fourteen days of the programme, whilst others belonged to the social world of sharing conversations over meals, during the practice and the hours in-between. And then there were those who were already yoga bhaskaras, those who had been there and done it all before. Some of us were in awe of these few yogis, prodding them with questions on how, what, why, when. Well, they knew the drill and so they only smiled and encouraged us to experience rather than talk.
The fears were not only about the discipline or the early hours or of not doing it all right. There were more basic matters of survival, such as food, to consider. The initial excitement of fourteen days with sattvic food, of plain saltless khichdi (rice and lentils) was soon lost to inquiries on when would the addition of almond milk and payasam (south Indian dessert) be implemented. There were those who wanted to lose weight and were happy at the prospect of restrictions, but the good intentions were soon forgotten when tablespoons of ghee and bowls of payasam manifested. There of course has to be a mention of one student who dreamt and spoke only of spices, pickles, fried vegetables and stuffed nans. The Ashram food was not easy for her and her constant discussions of recipes did not make it easy for the rest of us!
We managed to muddle through the first few days with courage and determination, always encouraging ourselves and others with joyful visions of the treasure that awaited us on the fourteenth day. None of us knew what this treasure was, but we all were aware that this was a journey, that even though we all had to take it together, it would remain exclusive to each one of us, carrying us to what we were seeking for ourselves. And yes, most of us did not know what we were seeking.
The first day was a little difficult as there were almost thirty- five of us practising together. The shy ones were inhibited while a few others were more exhibitionist, while others were in-between, trying to find their own space and struggling slowly to finish the practices. It was not always easy, but a few days of the programme helped us shed the exterior cloak of our individual lives and nudged us towards a path that went inwards. And that is when we were silent for the longest time.
The four to six hours of daily practice turned to six to nine hours and gradually we created our own individual space gently breaking our bodies and what existed inside.
Even though some would share and talk, the journey within was constant, alive and on-going. Through sleep, ablutions, practice, satsangs, meals, the tunnels inside each one of us kept growing and extending the walk. The pranayamas ignited candles in each of these tunnels and we slowly but surely expanded.
We became aware of ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our joys, our despair, our desires and our existence. Every breath we took during our practice worked with us, on us; every second of those fourteen days, helped us shed our ‘baggage’, our past moments of sadness, our fears, our need for acceptance and acknowledgement. We flowered like the wild orchids in the untended gardens of utopia, free-flowing within ourselves.
The experience emboldened us and we allowed ourselves to express freely, to let our emotions and feelings pour out into the world, to the universe, to the energy that holds us together. Some cried, some laughed, some kept quiet and some aloof. We explored our bodies, our minds and our souls. We discovered our latent energies and worked towards letting the prana flow within and through us.
Some of us saw and fell in love with our kundalini and focussed on Her, to bloom and grow inside us, to help us open our hearts and souls to the universe. Some of us experienced the energy dancing within. Through sparkles and lights, through fragrances and music, we grew aware of all our senses and beyond.
The fourteenth day eventually dawned and we saw our own individual journeys clearly in the stark light of day. All of us gained something, some gained clarity, some peace, some the power of reflection and the power of healing through acceptance and self-love, to look inwards as much as outwards, realising what we are and what we seek.
The smiles and love that flowed from each one of us bound us in a peaceful, pure, spiritual wreath and we wear our experience with respect, reverence and love for our gurus, who guided us through this journey, a beautiful journey toward the discovery of the Self.
The Course was a blessed experience. It gave me the opportunity to experience and appreciate the power of intense pranayama practices, under proper guidance and in an appropriate environment. I found myself releasing a lot of mental baggage and gaining more and more mental clarity as the days went by. I felt light, centred and grounded from within by the end of the Course.
Each session was an immersion, exploration and discovery of not only my physical strength and vital energy through the asana and pranayamas, bandhas and mudras, but also of the mind and its vagaries, and learning to deal with what came floating up from the subconscious.
The Course helped the body to break through its limit to a certain extent. The body was at one time trained to be a professional tennis player but never had it experienced that much of prana-charging in such a short time. After the Course, everything seems to be very easy. Efficiency and clarity enhanced.
Tara, Yuehling Chen
It is a great tool to remove the clouds from the mind, develop the will-power and grow spiritually. It increased the vibrations of my vital forces.