By Karen (Kumuda) Schaub,
interviewed by Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain
Kumuda had been taking a Bliss-Level Class in Svaroopa® Yoga for a few years. One day her teacher asked, rather directly, “Do you want to come to Shaktipat?” Inside she knew she was ready. “Yoga class started me on a path of knowing of who I am: the Self. Going to Shaktipat (the awakening of one’s Kundalini energy) was a profound expansion of that knowing. I experienced a deep peace and bliss. Gurudevi’s Grace gave me the direct experience of Consciousness. I realized that this was the purpose of life that I had always looked for on the outside.”
The roots of meditation had been planted early on. Kumuda recalls, “I saw my mom meditate as I grew up. She’d wake up everyday at 4:30 to do her practice.” Thus, the idea of cultivating a meditation practice wasn’t foreign to Kumuda. Her mother often said it’s important to keep one foot in eternity and the other in mundane reality. So since 2013, Kumuda has continued to attend Shaktipat retreats. Her experiences have developed and deepened her meditation practice over time.
“Every year, I go to Shaktipat,” she says. “That deep opening to Self brings me back again to my initial awakening: beautiful, awesome. Expanded on the inside to all that space. I feel open and clear with all this space on the inside. The first year, I tried to meditate at home and stopped. By the second retreat, the daily practice talk made it clear I needed to support myself to stay open. Disciple’s grace — self-effort — is necessary for Kundalini to take root, and to keep more of That. If I wanted to become more steady in myself, I had to have a daily practice.”
“I would begin with Ujjayi Pranayama and chanting to prepare. I became more settled. I made a ‘meditation nest’ that was there and ready for me at all times. I would meditate before work. Still, it took a long time to build consistency and everydayness. I’d skip a day or two, then have to wrangle my mind back in.” Kumuda was experiencing what Gurudevi often says: “Never get too far away from your last meditation.”
In the 7 years since receiving her first Shaktipat, Kumuda has observed the changes. “I come to life in a different way now. My tone of voice is different. I might still have reactions, but I don’t engage in them the same way. Over the years, as I meditate more consistently, I am more open, more centered. I don’t give into reactions or create the drama around the reaction. My profound and deep practice links me to the very Essence of who we all are.”
When Kumuda’s mother passed away unexpectedly last summer, meditation was Kumuda’s lifeline. She says, “Meditation kept me upright. With everything swirling around me, my sudden grief, and all the estate details, my thirty-minute meditation was time I carved out just for me. I knew I had to make room for it, as nothing felt like ‘me’. But when I meditate, I know Who I am: The Self.”
Being furloughed from work since the pandemic, Kumuda has had time for the daily online sessions of the Ashram’s Japa Club and Meditation Club. “Mantra and meditation intervene on my mind’s activity,” she describes. “I am quieter inside. When my mind goes off on a trajectory, I speak to it. I say, ‘Thank you, but no!’ In meditation, when I notice I am not repeating mantra, I go back to it. Similarly, when I lose my Self, I go back to my Self, to where I am on the inside. I am aware that I have a choice of how I am in the world, in this moment.” Kumuda has realized that the effects of daily meditation build over time. “All of a sudden I walk out the door and notice the shift has happened on the inside. That shift is mirrored back to me through my all my interactions and relationships. Shaktipat started it all. The more I meditate, the more I allow the unfolding and unfurling of Guru’s Grace within me. This is why I meditate.”
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