Su's Testimonial #1
This is the story of how I got involved with Sahaja Yoga.
First: a little background. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, raised by parents who, while loving and nurturing, were also a bit less conventional than most other kids' parents. While most of my friends had traditional upbringings (working dad, mom at home with the kids), right from the get-go, I noticed my folks had a different way of doing things.
Both my parents worked, (my dad was an engineer, my mother an executive secretary) and, unlike the conservative, money-oriented parents of my friends, mine were a set of parents who had liberal leanings, a love of the arts and a parenting philosophy that went something like this: follow your dreams, listen to your heart, challenge your mind. My father often played the saxophone or piano in Dixieland Jazz bands. He also wrote comedy skits and filmed them with friends, just for fun.
But perhaps the most unusual thing about my parents was that they were atheists. And, because they wanted us kids to understand that there would be personal choices we'd have to make as we approached adulthood, they raised my sisters and me first, in Catholicism (their childhood religion), then later allowed us to choose our own spiritual path (or none at all).
So that's my background. After graduating from high school, I went on to college to study English, writing and writers. I have always loved words, and my hope was to earn a living one day doing some sort of writing.
While in college, I met the man who would later become my husband. Although I had dated a little in high school and college, I had never met a man quite like this one. I first took notice of him during a class we were both taking-American Lit. The professor was making a point about macabre/horror writers, and from the back of the classroom, I heard this student patiently correcting the professor in an error he had made. What nerve, I thought, but my interest was piqued. (I later learned my future husband had been right to correct the prof.)
As time passed, Nick and I became friends, discovering we had a lot in common: a love of the arts (especially music), a thirst for knowledge and a desire to look deeper into our lives and try to understand the meaning of our existence. In an era that was the height of "disco" music, we discovered that we were both, independent of each other, doing rock & roll radio shows at the campus radio station. We were the only R&R DJs in a group of disco-maniacs. We were on a mission to share the energy and creativity of progressive rock, jazz and plain old rock & roll with our (limited) audience. We grew closer and.well.the rest is history.
After college, Nick & I moved to Boston, where he began taking music classes at Berklee College of Music. I worked first at a small publishing company, then later at a large newspaper. We both continued to look for ways to deepen our understanding of what it is to live a purposeful life. We became vegetarians (with me doing ALL the experimental cooking--LOL) and subscribed to a magazine called Vegetarian Times. We started hiking together and grew interested in fitness. At the age of 25, we decided to marry and, to the delight of our parents, announced our engagement.
Right around that same time, we came across an advertisement in Vegetarian Times for a "free" meditation and yoga meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was not far from where we lived, and we both felt it might make for an interesting evening.
We arrived at the meeting place, a small room tucked away in the musty halls of Harvard University. There was quiet Indian music playing and incense burning. We were instructed to remove our shoes and choose a seat. There were only a few people at this meeting- maybe a dozen-and most of them were seasoned Sahaja Yogis. At the front of the room was a tiny cloth-draped table, which held a small black & white framed photograph of an elderly Indian woman, a lit candle before the photo, and a small vase of flowers.
We were asked to sit quietly, with our eyes open and cast towards the photo. After a while, we were told to rest our hands on our knees, palms upward and directed toward the photo at the front. The music was lowered and eventually turned off. We meditated for some time and were encouraged to see if we could feel a cool, breezy sensation either across the palms of our hands or above our heads. I wasn't sure. I wanted to feel it, but I couldn't be sure exactly what I was feeling. I only knew I felt peaceful.
Midway into the meeting we were told there would be experienced yogis who would now go around the room and "work on" the new people. We were to continue to meditate and allow these yogis to "raise our kundalini," the supposed "subtle system" of chakras and nadis within each of us.
We allowed this and, as no one ever actually touched us physically, we assumed what was going on behind our backs was all part of an exotic new technique which we would eventually learn.
After the program, we were invited to take tea and cookies and chat about our experience. I wanted to go straight home because I felt I needed time to digest not only the tea & cookies (which were a rare treat for the two of us, as we had been eating a mostly sugar-free diet for some years now), but also the complex language and belief system that I understood to be Sahaja Yoga.
Nick seemed more excited by this new philosophy than I was and so, out of respect for his enthusiasm, I agreed to stay longer and investigate further. The yogis I chatted with assured me that there was an impressively cool breeze shooting from the top of my head and that it was not important whether or not I myself could feel it, because eventually I would. I was told that I could rest assured that I had indeed gained my "self realization" that night.