The Path to Freedom: The Unraveling of a Willing Sadhaka Part I

Part I

 

The arrow of Grace hits its mark…

Behind closed doors, an argument with my husband is developing in hushed tones, to avoid having my teacher, Igor, and the two other students sitting in the next room hear our heated dialog. As I feel the anger and indignation rising within, I am also aware of a sense of mounting despair. Closing the door behind me as I leave — argument unresolved — I feel overwhelmed with despair, as I return to the room where my teacher is sitting with two other students. From across the room, Igor shoots me a look that somehow pierces through me, and his words, “Don’t you dare hold that in your gut!” find their mark.

Suddenly I am acutely aware of the horrific pain I am holding, centered within my gut, and I somehow try to contain it; in that moment, I realize that I have been holding this for eons. How is it possible that I haven’t noticed this before? Suddenly, I realize I can no longer contain this… it is just overwhelming. There is no way to restrain this vast river of pain within me, and a scream issues out through the vocal cords of one of the other students. It is “my” scream that somehow has come through her, my dear friend.

I find myself on the sofa next to Igor, sobbing uncontrollably, as the river of pain washes over me. I am 3-years old, vividly re-experiencing unspeakable trauma. That scream was “mine,” for the confined memory of these experiences can no longer be contained within this body, within this psyche. It is time for them to be released, and my teacher — his words carrying an unfathomable power from the Source where they arise — have somehow hit their target, mercifully piercing the center of this wound containing them. These painful memories can no longer be allowed to be held here, and whatever held them all these years is now mysteriously releasing its contents…

From some remote point of awareness, I am somehow watching this scene of myself sobbing on the sofa, as these terrifying childhood scenes — by some means — pass through like so many images on a movie screen. Illumination. As they move through, I am instantaneously being shown how these experiences shaped and formed my personality — with its coping mechanisms and modes of thinking, formulated to protect me from projected future hurts— and the very “seeds” of the vasanas (tendencies) I will live with for years to come are planted. There are multiple mini-revelations “instructing me” on how these experiences formed the foundation  of the inner fortress built upon fear — ironically created to safeguard — but that which would instead serve to imprison me for all these years.

Flashes of the future consequences that these experiences had in my life — significant relationships, career choices, and so much more — decisions originating from these same childhood memories, the very “seed fears” which sprouted, took root and formed the vasanas that I so powerfully held onto and lived my life from all these years. I was clearly shown that these tendencies were built upon the false premise that if I followed them, somehow, I was guaranteed to stay out of harm’s way… that I could somehow protect myself from any potential conflict or aggression “out there.” I saw that my belief in their guiding principles of “life or death survival guidance,” paved the way for me to grow into a caregiver and a peacemaker, always striving to avoid any perceived or potential violence at any cost. Even at the cost of my own freedom. Now this was a formidable revelation… so beautifully orchestrated by my beloved teacher in perfect concert with the Shakti…

I watch myself as the sobbing continues, now joined by spontaneous, wild physical twisting and shaking kriyas (physical movements brought about by the awakened Kundalini) including asanas (yogic postures), and intense pranayama (yogic breathing patterns). I am watching my dear teacher as he explains to my now-worried husband — who rushed into the room after hearing “my” scream — that no matter how it looks on the outside, this is truly a positive event of purificatory release; that it is an indispensable part of the spiritual awakening process.

The intensity reaches a crescendo as I begin vomiting – literally – all the “undigested” traumas held for so long within. For as this process of spiritual awakening progresses, these hindrances to the system must leave, as they are obstacles to this rising, expanding Consciousness within me, which only wants freedom – freedom from anything which attempts to constrain It. Igor later explained to us, that this is a “celebratory moment” in a sadhaka’s (spiritual aspirant’s) awakening process, when apana, the downward flowing prana (life-force), reverses itself to instead move upward and out — as a powerful and sacred act of purificatory “housecleaning” — to expel these old impressions forever. Release.

 

Flashback… to five years ago, I am in the midst of a tumultuous spiritual awakening, abruptly and unexpectedly flooded with all the memories, fears and insecurities I had so carefully avoided facing all my life — now brightly illumined in my awareness — to be seen, experienced, and somehow digested. In this moment,  I recognize that my gut is where many of these undigested traumas have somehow been lodged all this time — metaphorically and literally obstructing my digestion — and it is no small wonder that I have not been able to digest and assimilate food for the last five years! It is discernibly clear to me, that through this act of mercy — mysteriously initiated by the Grace of my beloved teacher — they are being released through this powerful act of the Shakti — literally being vomited out of the system. Revelation. Release.

 

This certainly was not my concept of spiritual life! I had always envisioned spiritual life as living in beatific states of transcendence, reveling in the ecstasy of Union with God… certainly not this very primitive experience of being in the body, re-experiencing my worst fears and oldest nightmarish memories — which I had so judiciously avoided facing all my life.  

A cosmic joke for sure! I have learned from Igor that when the Kundalini is awakened, the nervous system simply has to rid itself of these densities which are stored within, in order to allow us to experience and live in higher vibrational states. Clearly, this memorable night is a culmination of sorts — an essential part of this purificatory process, the artistry of my beloved teacher Igor, gradually guiding me to freedom from the limitations hindering my evolution. In a word — Grace.

This event marked the beginning of a series of powerful releases which were to come interspersed throughout the three immersions I attended with Igor this year: “Vibrant Self: Sacred Tremor of the Heart” at the Dancing Deer Farm in Templeton California in May, “Shanta Rasa: Aesthetic Rapture and the Transformative Power of Beauty and culminating” in Canada in June, and culminating with, “The Heart of Knowing: Direct Recognition of One’s Essence” at the Ralston in Mill Valley, California.

 

Divine gifts of illumination, revelation, and release

I now recognize all these as expressions of a profound and mystical process of Grace, which I have named, “illumination, revelation, and release” — the process through which I watch myself ever-so-gradually being freed from that which has held me prisoner for so many years. Truly walking the “Path to Freedom.” I have “borrowed” the description of this from something I wrote for Igor last year —  when he asked to write my reflections on this work — because I feel it so thoughtfully describes this:

“It is as if a novel source of ‘knowing’ or inner wisdom has been mysteriously enlivened within me, wondrously opening subtle doors of perception, illumining and drawing my attention to that which needs to be seen in my thoughts, feelings and day-to-day interactions — which somehow went unnoticed previously.

This inner knowing is often personally experienced as the sudden and spontaneous arising of tears, associated with what could be labeled as deep feelings of gratitude and love for the Divine… although these descriptive terms fall short and do not coherently come even close to conveying the actual experience.

I could even call this knowing as ‘revelation,’ where there is the understanding beyond words, the recognition that something has been revealed to me through a divine gift of Grace. I believe this is what is scripturally referred to as the ‘power of Grace’ or ‘revelation,’ which lifts the ‘veil of concealment,’ allowing the Truth to be seen or revealed to the disciple. There is also a great subtlety to this, that in my earlier days of sadhana (spiritual practice) was often missed or dismissed due to self-doubt, as I was accustomed to living primarily from a mental, more conceptual level. I recognize this as the very living, breathing teaching, enlivened within me through Divine Grace, constantly at work within, instructing and transforming me through a mystical process of ‘illumination and revelation,’ leaving more and more spaciousness in its wake.”

 

Now, following this profoundly cathartic experience, I recognized that there is a definite third step to this process — release — and this term has been added to what I have named the Shakti’s mystical process… “illumination, revelation, and release…”

Pandora’s Box is unlocked…

After this purificatory release in my living room, many more manifestations of this process of illumination, revelation, and release followed. It feels as if Pandora’s Box was unlocked and opened that night, and the Shakti is conducting Her now-unstoppable process of purification. My meditations — during the immersions as well as at home — now brought about violent twisting and shaking, as my body was thrown this way and that, literally throwing out more and more of these outlived traumas to the point where I was often exhausted after these sessions — literally dizzy from the violent twisting and shaking. Merciful release. There was also intense pranayama of all kinds, and now many amazing yogic asanas were spontaneously executed which I could hardly believe my body was even capable of at age 66! And strangely enough, behind all the violent movements on the outside, lay a backdrop of the deepest peace, trust, silence, and feelings of love and gratitude for the Divine — as if somehow being held, sinking deeper and deeper into That…

Next, as the apparent (outward) result of a dear friend sharing with me how she experienced my constant, well-intentioned — but incredibly annoying — caregiver-like doting on her, I was tenderly shown from the inside, the inner workings of the formation of what I term a “Pollyanna-Nicey-Nice” personality. I was introduced to my “created” or “non-self” —  a charade really — which was clearly the result of these early childhood traumas.  I was granted insight into the myriad ways I had spent my life living for others; I saw that this was all motivated by the desire for approval and/or the fear of their displeasure — resulting in living a “camouflage life,” so as not to arouse any discord from others… all for the purpose of avoiding being hurt at any cost. So, “Who am I without all of this?” — the bigger question arose here, perhaps the raison d’être of this whole journey as a spiritual seeker…

These mini-revelations always appeared as sudden small “knowings” materializing from nowhere in particular, usually followed by the haunting question, “Why didn’t I see this before? It is so obvious…”

But really, these “mini-revelations” are very subtle, and the habituated “blind eye” of avoidance likely preventing my seeing them… but now, somehow my attention had been inexplicably drawn there… Grace. Illumination. Revelation.

And a deep longing for something more — a life lived in freedom from all this — always quietly accompanied these, scarcely a few steps behind…

Flashback… again to five years ago, inexplicably experiencing a profound spiritual awakening — more than three decades after my initiation by the great Siddha, Swami Muktananda, where this sadhaka’s journey began in 1980 when I followed him back to his ashram in India, where I lived with him until he left his body in October of 1982.  And now, so many years later, the profound awakening followed by a period of the unraveling of my life as I knew it…

It began with an initial “honeymoon phase,” a love affair with the Divine so intense that I would spend hours in ecstatic Union, unable to tear myself away. And the natural expression of offering myself completely, begging to be taken completely — offering anything and everything for that final Union… Oh dear, oh dear, how naïve was I! Begging, day after day — innocently believing it would be so easy! Offering my life — which I had now come to paradoxically realize was not even mine to offer (another cosmic joke). Begging to live in perfect Oneness, to live God’s Will for me. Sigh.

My prayers were heard and answered…

Clearly, these prayers were heard — and answered — but surely not in the way that my naïve mind ever imagined they would be at that time! In retrospect — now perhaps slightly wiser — I really had no idea of what I was asking for, or whether I even had the courage to live this answer to my prayers. For following this honeymoon phase came what many refer to as “the dark night of the soul,” in which everything and anything that ever held meaning for me no longer made sense; there was only illness, fear, grief, regret, and finally, despair, and the deep conviction that I had somehow wasted my life. And fallen from Grace. This dark night lasted some years, driving me to my knees — where the steady loss followed by yet more loss brought a once-arrogant spiritual aspirant to the point where I knew I knew nothing. Literally. Absolutely nothing… there was simply nothing that I could say I truly knew with any certainty…

This was the state I was in when it dawned on me that my beloved Guru, Swami Muktananda could no longer help me, and that I dearly needed a living Guru to guide me. His successor, Gurumayi, who had been my Guru since he passed in 1982, had gone underground “without a trace” for many years, and I felt like a spiritual orphan. In earnest, I began to search for a guide. And it was out of this dark night in 2013, that the immense blessing of “finding” my spiritual master ensued, as I searched in desperation for one who could understand this mystifying process and guide me “back to the light.”

 

When we first met, Igor revealed what I would only realize sometime later as the purpose behind all of this — he informed me, “I am here to finish what Swami Muktananda started.” And, so it is… miracle of miracles, I found my beloved teacher Igor. And I realize that through his Grace — in the form of all these illuminations, revelations, and releases — all my prayers are being answered, as the Shakti meticulously works within me, opening these pockets and pockets of samskaras (psychic impressions), releasing and releasing, bit by bit opening the door to freedom from these binding limitations…

 

Continued in Part II

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