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A Glimpse of My Pilgrimage

What I gained and what become deeper for me from my trip to India (Varanasi and Khajuraho, India) in 2017

Suzanne in Varanasi, India in front of the Ganga.

For the past two years, I have been struggling with my seated meditation practice. I was given my personal mantra from my teacher in 2011 at Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. It has been an amazing relationship as I have gone from being an excited child to feeling like it isn’t worth the time to missing it and wanting nothing more than to sit and meditate and yet found it difficult. Prior to my personal mantra I do an starting mantra that my teacher has given me to continue to nourish my body, mind and soul. However, this mantra was so difficult and became my struggle for the past two years.

I would sit, do my pranayama practice to assist me in waking up and begin the mantra, I was only to do one round of it before several rounds of my personal mantra but I could not not get through it. I would get about half way and fall asleep or my mind would go off in such a tirade of thoughts that I could not pull it back to the mantra. Then by the time I could come to, I was way over time and had to rush to get to work. So after many months I changed the time of day to do it later in the afternoon, this did nothing. Then I started drinking tea/coffee(I switched between the two depending on the day) before I sat and this too did nothing. Thinking that this first mantra was not right for me, I stopped it for about 6 months but I would constantly sing it while walking, or would play a CD in the car or spend an hour chanting a long and sometimes even dancing or moving to the music so I could stay awake. As a VATA business owner, I found that doing a vigorous afternoon practice was very depleting, so I switched my 3 pm practice to yoga nidra, a part of this being the practice of 61 points. Upon going to HI in October of 2016, one of the teachers there said put this mantra into your 61 point practice. As if I was the mala to hold this energy. This was an amazing turning point, I felt a new vibration as I could stay awake and felt nourished and restored to teach and lead a full business team. Then I started to put three repetitions into the start of my personal mala practice with the guru bead and did this two times day. It was like these mantras and I were on our honeymoon phase, excited to get to know each other and how we could grow together.

Before I left for Khajuraho I was sitting two times a day getting through the three repetitions of my healing mantra and five rounds of my personal mantra and doing yoga nidra daily. I was beginning to feel like a new person and could handle much more than I could before. Upon going to India, I started with a side trip to Varanasi before heading to HIK and had a room on the mother Ganga. The first night I sat for a three hour meditation, I did move now and then but the steadiness of the mind was like nothing I had ever experienced. For five days, I would go down to mother Ganga and pour water over me before I sat then I would have an extended japa practice. I would do this two times a day and noticed the longer I was away from my “normal” life the daily stuff stopped visiting me. There were no longer thoughts of daily tasks needing to be done: If I handled certain conversations correctly, if my bank account was okay or if I should worry about not having internet and checking in with the team while I was away. Being in a sacred place, helped lift a veil off of my mind to go just a bit deeper.

Then upon arriving to Khajuraho, I was already in the habit from the past week of waking at 4 am to do some simple stretching and pranayama to prepare my seat and sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, up to the time of morning prayers. Within the first four days, I decided to try the first mantra to see if I could get through one mala, the first time I tried, I did. There were many superficial thoughts that came to me, that I have been working with the past several years but I could go from these thoughts to mantra in just a few seconds and didn’t fall asleep or completely loose myself on one thought. The first time I did one mala and only two rounds of my personal mantra it took me close to an hour and half. It took much effort to notice when my mind got tempted away and to invite it back to the mantra each time. But being in a sacred place where the intention is to go inward and connect to the Devine, was amazing support. While I was at Khajuraho, I would sit three times a day, doing my japa practice two times per day and even though it was only for two weeks, by the end I was through the first mantra and back to doing five malas of my personal mantra. Often I would have a third sit of the day and just observe the mind without the malas. I compared this time to a mother just watching her child play. I don’t know if this is right or not but it felt good to be in a sacred space and just be and observe the greater force , these times of contemplation- I can not yet describe to you. The longer I was away from my daily routine of home and soaked up the energy of Khajuraho, I noticed visions would arise of things that I hadn’t ever seen. It was another layer that I need to go through but this layer was much easier to notice and pull the mind back from, which is why I was able to do my personal mantra for more rounds.

I have been back three days now and have a new renewed desire to do my practice and have found that my mind is still able to ride the waves of Khajuraho. This is why it is so important to take time away to go to a sacred place where the energy supports moving inward and your intentions are clear for your time.

From my pilgrimage, my faith in the practice has been renewed, the understanding of why we practice has been deepened and the vibration that I felt (at Khajuraho) is now a part of me to continue to guide me inward. I am very grateful and feel so blessed that the sages have invited me to this practice and continue to guide me.

Learn more about yoga and the BambooMoves Forest Hills location. 

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