I received my Self Realisation and began practising Sahaja Yoga meditation via a totally unremarkable process. It was January 1992 and I had been feeling increasingly restless for a while, and so – unusually for me – I corresponded with an astrologer to try and obtain an indication of how I should proceed with my life. He sent me back not a chart, but a suggestion that I start to meditate. I remember ringing him up and explaining that I was not into ‘that kind of stuff’ and his reply that I should just try it (any meditation, he didn’t specify which) because it would help me get myself together. As a result of his suggestion, I bought a copy of the Time Out magazine (a hippie rag, as I called it) and sent off to all the new age and mediation courses advertised in the back. Amongst these was Sahaja Yoga, which of course was free. And to be honest it was simply the fact that it was free that encouraged me to try it, I was not too keen to spend up to £200 just to try out some form of meditation.
My first visit to a Sahaja Yoga meeting was also unremarkable, mundane even. I remember sitting down in an empty room (I always arrive at new venues early) whilst the meeting was being set up. I became a little uneasy when I saw what looked like too many new age artefacts being assembled – chakra chart, incense and a picture of an Indian lady, but determined to stick it out to the end come what may. At least then I could say I had tried! I suppose that I had in mind that meditation classes would be sort of like a formalised or conventional tutorial, a sort of MBA for the mind!
The meeting seemed to pass quickly and I received my Realisation in the conventional way. Interestingly, I remember thinking how cold my hands were as we were going through the process of saying the affirmations, and nobody had mentioned about the cool breeze! It was only afterwards when I heard another new person mention their cold hands that I remembered my own sensation. After the Realisation, there was a video of a talk by Shri Mataji. She made me laugh several times during the talk, which I took as a good sign. I remember thinking that anyone with a sense of humour can’t be bad. Finally there was a meditation workshop, where we were ‘worked on’ by another person, which was quite pleasant. Not incredibly profound or anything like that, just quite pleasant. The meeting ended with tea and biscuits during which we had time to ask questions, and my chat with Alan (the person who had worked on me) was just what I needed to hear. No hippie or new age type talk, just a nice sensible guy who seemed to be very down to earth and normal. I went home quite relaxed.
I tried to meditate over the next week, and it was very difficult. I remember sitting in the bathroom (didn’t want to upset the family you see) trying to understand the instruction sheet that I had been given. ‘If you are still troubled by thoughts, try raising the left and lowering the right’. So there I was, photograph perched precariously on the sink behind the taps, with candle spluttering merrily away, lifting my left foot into the air and trying to work out how to lower the right leg! Needless to say, my early meditations were not superb.
Another interesting fact from these early days. I was due to watch the Super Bowl American football match four days after my Realisation. It was an annual pilgrimage that I paid to a sport I enjoyed a lot at the time. The matches were usually late at night because of the time difference, and I always set myself up beforehand with beers, popcorn and suchlike, so that I could watch it in a ‘proper’ American style. Now strangely enough this time – just four days after my Realisation, note – I decided totally ‘spontaneously’ whilst preparing for the game, that I would watch the match ‘straight’ this time. I remember thinking, ‘hey, it might be nice to see the match without being totally blitzed’. And so I did, and enjoyed it immensely. This was my first experience of the gentle and natural way our spirit will guide us whenever it is needed for our benefit -a small voice that I now listen to with the utmost respect and attention!
Anyway, I was sufficiently intrigued by Sahaja Yoga to return to the meeting the next Tuesday, and it was then that I was shown just how powerful Sahaja Yoga can be. I was being worked on by Chris, and I just dissolved into a glorious bright light in my head. No thought, no worries, no nothing. It was incredible. It was better than any drug induced high that I had ever experienced. I went home that evening on cloud nine and from that moment on I spent my time trying to reach that state again. There is no doubt that the early days of Sahaja Yoga meditation were the most intense for me, in fact from what I hear a lot of people have their most incredible experiences right after their Realisation. Everything became so much more vivid. Trees stood out in glorious green as though etched in 3D on the roadsides of London. I remember standing, washing my hands in the sink and staring in wonder at the beauty of the water running in rivulets down my palms.
I also quickly determined that if I drank any alcohol I would ‘come down’ from this incredible high I was on, and so without even a second glance (although I was never a great drink lover) I gave up drinking alcohol. I tried to meditate as often as I could, even rushing down to the toilets in my office at lunchtime to try and meditate and keep the feeling going. And all the time, I was realising things about myself, about my family, my relationship with my mother, partner, boss etc. It was a most amazing period of several months. In fact I quite often look back now and realise that I have absolutely no recollection of the weather, events or conditions in 1992. I don’t know whether it was a great or terrible summer, or whether it was cold or rainy in the autumn. Nothing. That is how absorbed I was with the new experience of Sahaja Yoga.
Of course no one can continue at that kind of intensity for ever, it would just wear you out, so gradually I have ‘settled down’ to a life where subtle Joy has become a daily companion, without being artificial or forced. Joy as in contentment, as in peace in oneself and as in enjoyment of the flow of life within and without. But I will never forget those early experiences.
Within a few months of starting to meditate, I had also begun to visit the homes of Sahaja Yogis on a social basis, and I also spent a lot of time at the office of Nick, one of my new found Sahaja friends and guides. We must have discussed everything under the sun and Spirit during our chats. I used to rush round to his place bursting with questions, and sometimes be taken completely aback as he handed me a sheet of paper or a tape with a talk by Shri Mataji that answered my questions perfectly – even before I’d asked them! I remember also several fleeting instances during my meditations of the time where I experienced – could actually sense – an incredibly infinite and yet benign power, guiding and comforting me. This I took as yet another clear sign that this was a path far deeper than anyone could imagine.
Since the early days of my Realisation, life has returned to what could be termed normality. Except that it is, in fact, supra-normality. I have an immensely enjoyable job, doing something creative which I love doing. I travel the world and in material terms, although I am far from rich, I want for nothing. That’s not to say that I live in some rose coloured utopia, where nothing ever goes wrong. Far from it. But the sense of balance, purpose and wonder that I have been lucky enough to gain from this amazing Yoga appears to be strong enough to overcome just about every negative eventuality. It really is like being able to create your own benign universe!
Sahaja Yoga is a fantastic and never ending adventure. Just when you think that you have ‘settled in’ to a calm period in your life or spiritual journey – WHAM – up pops some new opportunity or test, or you have such a profound Realisation that your whole being alters course, perception or attitude. Sahaja Yoga to me is the ultimate adventure. Beside it, everything else pales into insignificance. Nothing can match the richness of experience that it provides, and there is nothing which to me comes close to offering such meaning to life.
In fact, although some of my friends and family were initially rather worried about my new found ‘meditative’ life-style, I believe they now realise that I am experiencing some of the most incredibly enjoyable and productive times of my life – and it is clear that a few of them are even starting to question their own goals and attitudes to life as a result.
I just thank God for allowing me the privilege of enjoying my life in this glorious manner.
London, December 2001