August 15th is the anniversary of the Spiritual Initiation that Baba Muktananda received from his beloved Guru Bhagavan Nityananda in 1947. Baba was the Guru of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda who is presently the living spiritual leader of the Siddha yoga lineage.
Why is this date important to me?
In the mid 90’s I went through a series of very significant life changes. A long- term relationship ended and this painful transition was immediately followed by the death of my mom. This excruciating time became the fertile ground that nurtured a massive shift in my spiritual practice.
I had been practicing yoga for about 8 years and the new pain I was experiencing motivated me to go deeper into my search for answers. What was the point of my life?
Where was God? Why was I here? I was hungry like I had never been before.
This hunger led me to going deeper into my inner practices of meditation. I knew I needed a teacher to help guide me, so I began to search for someone.
I initially had some formal meditation study in Tantric Buddism. I also had been reading and attending lectures by Deepak Chopra for many years and even received a mantra and initiation from the Chopra Institute. Still I was hungry, and restless as I knew I hadn’t found my teacher. The yoga asana I was seriously studying at that time had also lost it’s juice. I knew I had outgrown it, I felt lost.
And then in one day my life changed.
I went to a friend’s yoga class and she read an excerpt from a new spiritual course she had just found. As she read a quote, I felt a deep stirring in my heart like nothing I had felt before. I knew in that moment that the answers I had been looking for were inside me the whole time-I felt the perfection of my deepest self.
That quote was by Baba Muktananda from a Siddha yoga meditation course. I immediately signed up for the course and devoured every word and practice for the next 6 months.
On one cold January morning, inspired by the writings about these Siddha yoga Gurus, I drove 4 hours to South Fallsburg, New York to the Siddha Yoga ashram for a Shaktipat Intensive.
I remember that day so clearly. I remember thinking-‘what am I doing driving up to this ashram by my self, am I nuts?’
When I arrived I was struck by the immense amount of energy I felt walking in. I was also freaked out, because there were these massive photos everywhere of these Indian saints.
I sat in the large hall awed by it’s beauty trying to follow the unfamiliar rituals and sanskrit chants. Then truly one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen entered the hall. It was Gurumayi. The way she walked in was so graceful and yet powerful- almost regal. She gave a profound talk, we chanted, and I was immersed in a sea of universal power. Many tears flowed that day. Tears of the joy of recognition, and tears of clearing out old ideas.
Gurumayi kept talking about Baba Mukananda, her Guru, the whole time. I remember looking at his absolutely massive photo on the wall to the left of her. He was this dark Indian man in an orange robe with a beard staring at me-actually staring THROUGH me. He was a little scary at the time. At the end of the program I was instructed to stand in this long line because I was new. As I stood in line I could see everyone was being given something.
When I got to the front I was given a photograph, the same one on the wall, of Baba Muktananda and it also had a mantra on it- Om Namah Shivaya.
I headed back 4 hours silently in the car.
I knew that Gurumayi was my teacher from that moment on. But I wasn’t sure about why I had received this photo of Baba-why didn’t I get a photo of Gurumayi?
2 days after I was home I was casually talking on the phone with a friend , looking at this picture I had been given that I had placed on a wall by my bed, when- Kaboooooooom!-a vast serge of energy began to build inside me. I abruptly got off the phone and proceeded to be pulled into hours of the most amazing wild meditation experience I had ever had.
This was Shaktipat ( my initiation). I received it from a picture!
It has been 12 years since that time. That truly profound life changing experience has unfolded in more and more miraculous ways over the years. Every year I feel more grateful for the gifts I have received from Gurumayi ,Baba Muktananda and the entire Siddha yoga lineage.
Baba Muktananda commissioned the translation of all my favorite Tantric scriptural texts into English. He headed the mediation explosion that took place in the 70’s and changed the West forever.
It was through Siddha yoga at another meditation intensive with Gurumayi that I met my other extremely significant teacher-John Friend.Today just so happens to be Anusara yoga's 12th birthday.
Happy Birthday everyone in this shree kula!
Om Guru Om