By Shuchi Cilley
It seems like such an indulgence to give yourself a five-day retreat at Lokananda. But it’s not. In fact, I found it to be a vital part of the care and feeding of my Self. Ah, but it’s not my big-S Self that needed it; it’s my small-s self. And while my mind whined a bit about all the logistics, finances and the time away, the deeper part of me was relentlessly pushing to make sure it happened. Not only that it happened, but that I add on an extra night at the beginning, with a Tuesday evening satsang, and the half-day workshop before the program started.
Right from the beginning there it was: Bhairava at work. Arising within you, Bhairava is the force that propels you, compels you, impels you forward, beyond your own understanding to the knowing of your own Self. Bhairava shatters your limitations and sets you free. As Swamiji says, “Go ahead, try to deny it. It will move you anyway.”
So I went with great joy. And, of course, at the feet of the Guru I experienced what I longed for, and more. A recent Daily E-Quote advised, “You need a system, a system that works, a spiritual system that has already produced mystics and saints and continues to do so.” At the retreat, our Svaroopa® Sciences system was on full display in all its scintillating wholeness — so many facets sparkling with, and in, the light of Consciousness — such abundance: blissful asana, chanting and deep meditation with Swamiji, japa, seva, arati ceremonies, darshan, sparkling discourses.
How do I describe the experience of Swamiji demonstrating and teaching us the simultaneous vibrations in OM or immersing us in the poetry of Lalleshwari? Add in vichara, repeatedly shining through the dark spots of my mind, and enclose it all within the Shakti of Lokananda. There’s more — the company of so many deep Svaroopis, new friends and old, flying in from across the continent. I savored the bedtime discussions with my dear roommates, the food at Lokananda and our Ashram lunch with Swamiji. Time and space had no meaning; past, present, and future all together, right now, right here.
Sometimes it’s not til you open your eyes that you know what your meditation has given you. And sometimes it’s not ‘til you get home that you know what a program has given you. In teaching our asana classes, Rukmini beautifully layered in my transformative experience, giving rise to all I have described here. At home again, I found the deep benefits of that experience: the fatigue behind my eyelids — gone; a few less tight spots in my mind; an open heart full of gratitude; and so many other transformations from physically being at the feet of my Guru.
In telling you, I’ve only touched the surface and it’s all still present — and more — when I try to describe it for you now. It was the full experience of the Bliss of Consciousness, playing the edge of individuality and the infinity of Consciousness through the Grace of the Guru. Guru’s Grace showered without restraint. How could I be so lucky?!