By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast
I enrolled in the October Shaktipat Retreat only because Gurudevi came to me in a dream. It was about a week before it was to begin. I took the dream as a sign that I couldn’t let this opportunity go by.
Since 2012, I’d taken six in-person Shaktipat Retreats. Each was powerful in a unique way. My late decision to attend Shaktipat meant I had to opt for online. My experience was unexpectedly profound. In fact, it has proved to be a turning point for me on the Self-Realization path.
When Gurudevi gave Shaktipat by will, my head filled with light. A sense of infinite wholeness expanded from within my whole being. Physical boundaries dissolved. Inside and outside were the same. I recognized that infinite wholeness as me — my own Self. The meditation following was filled with light and bliss.
Turning my focus inward now, as I write, I find again an enormous, ineffable lightness. It is interwoven with grandeur and divine ecstasy. This experience marked a wonderous turning point. Paradoxically, however, it is more subtle than grand. It’s a shift to a quiet perspective — a plain, enduring clarity. It feels infinitely deeper than ecstasy. I feel the Divine Is-ness of all, inside and outside, no matter the circumstances.
The same weekend as Shaktipat, I lost my Norwegian Forest cat, Jay. Eleven years ago, he was found as a nearly wild stray kitten. Rescued, he learned to live as an indoor/outdoor cat. Jay had an unvarying routine. He spent his days sleeping in sun patches on my office floor or on my lap at the computer. At night, he left through the pet door for feline revelry outdoors. Without fail, he returned precisely at 5:30 am as morning meditation closed.
I last saw Jay on the day before my Shaktipat Retreat began. I had to move office furniture around to ensure Jay couldn’t get into my adjacent yoga room. Spooked by the hubbub, he bolted out and never returned. On Sunday afternoon following the retreat, his fur was found in tall grass. There was evidence of struggle with a coyote. Several years ago, he had encountered a Bobcat, and won that battle. But this past summer, Jay was no longer able to jump from the floor to my lap. Clearly, aging had slowed him down.
I feel the heaviness of his loss. Yet when I turn more deeply inward, the lightness of Is-ness shimmers. From there, I see that Jay experienced a different return. He retuned into the Formless. This transition was inevitable on all levels. His wild nature was a particular form of Pure Consciousness. He lived aligned with his natural instincts. His end was simply a natural outcome. This simple yet profound clarity arises from my Shaktipat turning point. I see “appropriateness” inside and outside.
Constantly experiencing this Is-ness sustains a clear perspective. Assisting Gurudevi in the Shaktipat Retreat, Swami Satrupananda gave a talk on kriyas. When awakened by a Shaktipat Guru, Kundalini uncoils from her sleep at the base of your spine. Just as it’s the nature of heat to rise, Kundalini climbs the spine. When her upward flow runs into blockages, kriyas happen. These spontaneous physical movements and movements of thought and emotion indicate that Kundalini is awake. Gurudevi reminds us that, once awakened, Kundalini is doing our work for us. But we need to cooperate.
When pesky thoughts arise in daily meditation now, I know them as evidence of awakened Kundalini. She tirelessly, lovingly does her job, clearing the limiting stuff of lifetimes. I meet these currents of thought with mantra. I bow to all. I know they are the divine action of Kundalini within me. I know I must attend to my mind’s engrained patterns. Having received the gift of Shaktipat, I follow Gurudevi’s guidance on mantra repetition and meditation to dissolve those patterns.
Doing so is my way of honoring Gurudevi’s incalculably precious gift, the blessing of her Grace. It returns to me again and again the knowing of my own Self — the One Self Being All. With that knowing, there is nothing to fear and nothing to mourn.