By Julia (Chintamani) Wallis
Interviewed by Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain
The discovery of my Self began 15 years ago as a Svaroopa® yoga student. My journey has been evolving ever since. Six months after starting yoga classes, I was propelled into YTT (Yoga Teacher Training). The changes happening were powerful, on all levels of my being. I knew I wanted more. At that time, Gurudevi had not yet taken her vows, and urged us to “get a Guru.” So I attended satsangs at a local meditation center, three times a week. There I discovered the power of chanting and meditation. Layers of “stuff” that wasn’t me started peeling off. I was getting the experience of that something “more” I longed for.
Then life took a new turn. I got married, moved away and started having children. While focusing on my family, I turned away from yoga. This made me very miserable inside. Yet Grace intervened. A friend drove me to a Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation satsang in Portland OR. While attending, I realized how much I was missing my Self. I came home inspired to make a space in my home for the Svaroopa® Sciences practices. I dove in. Even just the poses shifted my state. I started more YTT and teaching classes. But I still wasn’t meditating daily. My family’s needs felt more important. Then I attended a Shaktipat retreat and everything changed.
Going deeper, while sitting upright in meditation, had always been challenging. Yet in the second Shaktipat initiation, I became still and steady in my seat. I completely dropped in. My thoughts became the scenery inside my mind. I kept looking for my Self within. Then I heard Gurudevi’s voice, inside: “Who is looking?” Suddenly I realized: That’s me! How could I have not known this before? It’s a feeling of familiarity. I am being and feeling my Self, while being “That”.
I continued practicing and deepening into Self. Yet I began to question, “Where I am going from here?” A swami suggested that I consider applying for Vratin vows. Yet I wasn’t sure. I did vichara sessions (guided self-inquiry). I wanted to rid my system of the limitations that were holding me back. In sessions, I experienced profound “aha” moments. I felt the fire in my spine burning my karmic seeds. During the pandemic, I even joined the online Vichara Club and completed four rounds of ten sessions each. They created a deep and irreversible shift for me.
Taking the Vows Prep course, I kept deepening into Self and took the Vratin vow in July 2021. The Shaktipat retreat that followed confirmed that my goal in life is service. Being vowed, I feel supported in my goal. It’s so clear. And if I get entangled in worldly activities, I read a Vowed Member Facebook post. I come back to the knowing of my Self.
Each Shaktipat experience deepens this knowing of my Self and purpose. I see that Guru/Self/God and the mantra received from Gurudevi are the exact same thing. My worldly life is not a distraction from my yoga. Yes, meditation takes me to my Self. Yet whatever I do in life — yoga, farming, family — takes me to my Self as well! I offer it all to Gurudevi Nirmalananda.
Selfless service is the direct route to Guru/God and Self. Swami Muktananda, the Guru of Gurudevi, said, “Seva is a sublime form of meditation, study and yoga. Understand its mystery!” I am ever indebted to my Gurudevi for showing me this path to Self-discovery.