By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast
If it were not for my mind, I would be enlightened! I blurted out this statement in conversation with a yoga buddy one day. I’d never allowed myself to own this elevated aspiration. Yet I knew it to be true.
The ancient teachings on Self-Realization as offered by Gurudevi compel me. At a deep level, I know their absolute Truth. In that moment, in a flash of insight, I see my mind blocking me on the path. I see my mind as a standalone entity, with its own agenda. It’s dense and determined to hold on to certain attitudes. Sometimes it’s a two-year-old, sometimes an adolescent.
I really got to know this mind during my two glorious years of Ashram residency. The routine of morning chant and meditation, days devoted to seva, and evening satsangs took me deep. I loved chanting our food mantra with Gurudevi, the Swamis and other residents before each meal.
During my Ashram stay, I went deeper than I’d imagined going when I applied for residency. My main reason for residency was the desire for a consistency of practice. In my first months, I could physically feel the untangling of old brain wiring while chanting Sri Guru Gita. What a relief!
This opened up enough inner space for angry inner voices to have their say. I recognized my “inner two-year-old” and more articulate “inner adolescent.” They were lonely, scared, sad. They/I had based my sense of self on “doing things right.” Avoiding punishment, staying safe and surviving formed the goal. Daily life, regardless of responsibilities and activities, is bound to frustrate those desires. Anger erupts when I (with two-year-old and adolescent mind) don’t get what I want. They emerged from the depths and took up residence near the forefront of my mind. I got to know their insistent voices well.
Given Guru’s Grace, with her profound teachings, I knew to befriend these rascals. I knew that, as contracted forms of Shiva, my own Is-ness, they were not to be banished. I learned to sweettalk them with mantra, and give them luxurious rest in meditation. Doing so, I can apply their energy to more mantra and more meditation. I’m propelled deeper — even into ineffable peace and ultimate effulgence — sometimes.
More often, my meditation is a festival of emotional and mental kriyas. I am so grateful for this process. Afterward, that standalone entity of mind is calmed. It’s willing to courteously step aside. It no longer requires constant, hyperalert focus. I can go past mind into the infinitely vast expanse within. “Getting things done in the world” will always be a step into potential frustration. Yet my awareness turns inward to my Own Self as the One Self Being All. I see this clear path to enlightenment.