Monday, March 11, 2013

My Experience of Inner Engineering Program

To read my popular post on my visit to Dhyanalinga- Isha Yoga Centre, click on THIS LINK

* Pics taken from Isha foundation blog.

It has been almost a month since I finished the 3 day INNER ENGINEERING Program at Hyderabad from 15th to 17th Feb 2013. 

15th Feb 2013 was to be my first marriage anniversary and we were thinking about the places we could go to. I had already been to the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore. So, based on that wonderful experience, I wanted to show that place to my wife too and thus we were planning on going there together for our first marriage anniversary. 

As luck would have it, just a day after talking about it, I saw an ad on the internet about the Inner Engineering Program to be held at Hyderabad (the place we are currently staying) on the same day as our marriage anniversary and the weekend and to add to it, it was close enough to my wife's office too. It certainly was an amazing coincidence if it was one. Nevertheless it was one opportunity I did not want to miss. I called on the numbers given and inquired  I found out that Sadhguru himself would be present there all 3 days and there weren't residential facilities, so we would have to go back home and come back in the morning. The seating arrangement is done by groups and we were in the second group i.e. close enough to the stage or dais and so it was one of the more expensive groups. I immediately booked 2 seats.

After that, I got the receipts, we also received the Id- cards at our place through mail some days before the program, about 2 weeks before. Wearing Id-cards there is necessary as it will help to identify you as well as for security purposes. Also as luck would have it, or another co-incidence you can say, my place of work declared a holiday on 15th Feb Friday, the day of my marriage anniversary. So it was just perfect for me.

So on the evening of our anniversary, we were at the program with our mobiles switched off and many people were trying to reach us. Finally they contacted home to my parents who told that we were attending a 3 day Spiritual Program. It certainly must have been a shock to them. Who goes to a  3 day spiritual program on their first marriage anniversary!! Some said that they have just got married recently, this is not the time for spirituality etc. But this is not the typical, religious program or that sort of thing. This is a science and that is why it's called Inner Engineering!

Finally the day arrived when the program was going to start. We reached the place by auto, we did not know the exact location, so had to call once on the number mentioned and they guided us a bit. Even on the street at some points, we saw the volunteers guiding people in the right direction. Finally we reached HITEX. It was to start at 6:30 pm and we were required to reach ideally by 5:30 so that we could occupy our seats and fill out a kind of registration form. There were different entrances as per the groups and people were asked to use those entrances and exits only. This helped to manage the 3500 odd people that had gathered there. The excitement was palpable. There were people of all age groups and regions and foreigners too. Many youngsters, quite a few middle aged as well as some very old people too. There was also an option of listening to all the things that would be spoken in the program, in the local language- Telugu. So many people had taken that option and used headphones which I thought was pretty amazing- To pay money and attend a big 3 day Program without knowing the language and listening to it in translation.

At 6:30 one of the persons came and spoke about the Registration form which we were required to fill and hand them back. It mostly included the personal details, about any illness, benefits expected from the program etc. They provided pens to the people as well. We had already filled the form up in that 1 hour period.

Also there was the team from "Sounds Of Isha" on the stage and they were playing some amazing music as people were waiting for the program to start. In fact Sounds of Isha with their songs and music were outstanding throughout the 3 days, playing from time to time, in all the breaks etc. I just fell in love with those songs some I remember - one had very frequent use of the word "Chandrashekhar" (If any of you know the title of the song, do let me know) one was on Linga Bhairavi which was again amazing. I would really love to listen to those songs again.

Finally around 6:45 or so, Sadhguru came. His entry was brisk, suddenly out of nowhere and everyone stood up. He stood there with folded hands, in Namaskar and then everyone took a seat. I don't remember the exact colour of his clothes but the colours were different on all 3 days. First day it seemed a greyish colour if I am not wrong. 

My first reaction on seeing him was- Oh! He looks so old. His beard was just pure white, no shades of grey or black which is visible in some of his earlier videos. He really looked ancient, old and frail in the body . He was seated in the center on his typical seat with the copper vessel of water at the side as always. He also had a thing like the Vicks inhalor which he used from time to time. There were 2 big screens on either side of him at the corners so that people sitting behind or in positions from which it would not be comfortable to see him directly could look at the screens. I took a look at him and then I looked at the screens. I don't know if it was just me but when I looked at him directly, he just seemed different, almost a bit transparent if I may say so. On the screens he looked normal, just like he looks in the videos, on Tv etc, but it was different in reality. So for the 3 days, I just directly looked at him instead of the screens.
And then out of nowhere again was heard his really booming voice in a chant. And once I heard his voice, my previous thought vanished. Now he felt really strong and solid. The audience chanted after him. Then he went on to explain the reason and the meaning of the chant. His sense of humor came up from the start itself. There was a bit of an echo, so he said it was for those who won't listen to him the first time, so they have a second chance- by listening to the echo......something along those lines. He spoke about the need for Inner Engineering. Since I have seen a lot of his videos and read some books, so some part of what he said I had seen or heard before, but it was still fine because here he was saying it in person and the impact is certainly different.

In between a couple of people got up and started going out perhaps to the washroom and he noticed that and said that people should not just get up and leave any time because it was for all the people. If someone leaves in between, they might miss something important. If there is some physical, medical problem for someone or because of very old age etc, then they can inform and they will pause for some time, wait for them to come back and then continue. In short, it was important that everyone was together in it and no one missed any part which could be important. He also said that for the weekend, there would be regular breaks.

Friday evening was for 3 hours and it was enjoyable. In the end, he taught "Isha Kriya". It is also available online for free. It is a simple technique which used breath and thought, typing them together. One of the persons- a foreigner stood up and said that he had tried the technique and it wasn't suitable for him and suggested some changes. After listening to him, he was rightly asked to leave and get a refund if he could not or did not want to do it and because the time of 3500 other people was also wasted in this. It all finished by 10 and we were asked to do it once before sleeping that day. We reached home late, had light dinner, did the Isha Kriya and went to sleep.

For the next day morning, we had booked a cab. We reached there on time as we knew the way. We took our seats. On Friday there were chairs, on Saturday there weren't. Depending on whether we had to do something or just sit and listen, the chairs were either removed or put back in the breaks. Each time we came after the breaks, we did get something like a booklet or pamphlet or something like information about the Center in Coimbatore etc. Also the music and songs were always on in the breaks. Outside there were also stalls for various things like arts and crafts, bags, t shirts, the copper snake rings, Linga Bhairavi related things, books, music Cds etc.

Sadhguru then came on time, briskly climbing the few steps to his seat, almost jumping which happened almost every time he came. It was so good to be there, on the morning of a new day and this time for the full day. Again the day started with some fun and humor. He asked if everyone was able to hear him. Again someone from the same place as Friday said that they were not able to hear properly. So Sadhguru jokingly said that you are the same person who has the problem everyday. Some adjustment was done and the problem was fixed. The whole day was interspersed with talks and a few yoga related activities. It is a bit tiring to sit the whole day, specially when the chairs are not there. So especially if you are not young, you would be better off bringing some pillows or mats or whatever to feel comfortable. The talks were good with a good dosage of jokes and stories. On Saturday we had lunch there which was good enough. It was the usual healthy food. In the evening too, they had made arrangement for bananas and some healthy drink which was greenish but good enough as some people were not able to have proper lunch.

On Saturday and Sunday, there were times when Sadhguru was not present for some time and at that time, some of his videos were shown. Even in the breaks, on the big screens, lots of videos and pictures were shown of the Linga Bhairavi unveiling, the Kailash Mansarovar trips and many others. Even the students from Isha schools performed a few dances, martial arts demonstrations etc. On Saturday, (or Sunday I am not sure, perhaps Sunday) after lunch, there was a video of Sadhguru speaking about food, the qualities of food i.e positive pranic, negative pranic and neutral food. Generally fruits, vegetables, nuts etc kind of things are positive pranic, even honey and especially ashgourd. Generally things with strong smells like onions, garlic etc and stimulants like tea, coffee are negative pranic. Potato, tomato are neutral, but potato can make a person sleepy. In fact many people not used to sitting like this at a place the whole time, were drowsy and sleepy.

We were also taught some of the steps involved in Shambhavi Maha Mudra just so that we could practice and get it right before we do the whole thing on Sunday.

Sunday morning we had to reach really early by 7:30. Breakfast would be served there. The start was a very dynamic one with music and songs and dance. Again after some practice and talks just before lunch it was time for the main feature of the Inner Engineering Program- The Shambhavi Mahamudra. Sadhguru talked about how when all the different parts come together, it can be something really wonderful, but the individual parts in themselves might not seem much. Thus the things we had learned in bits and pieces were to be assembled to form the Shambhavi Mahamudra. He also told how it was a 'transmission' and thus has to be taken from the right source i.e. the guru. Not anyone can give it and that is also the reason why even after learning it, we are not supposed to be teaching others. For this, Sadhguru hadn't worn the upper garment, just a shawl like covering.

This Shambhavi mahamudra is a kriya meaning internal action, means doing something with the energy itself directly. Below is an excerpt from a website:

"The Inner Engineering program includes interactive discussions, guided meditations, a set of simple, gentle asanas (yoga poses) and the transmission of Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya. Shambhavi Mahamudra is a 21-minute practice that greatly accelerates spiritual transformation and can have powerful physiological benefits as well. The kriya is an ancient internal energy process that functions as a catalyst for spiritual growth. When practiced regularly, the Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya will support health and inner wellbeing the rest of one’s life."

Sadhguru says: “The reason why most people in the world do not know joy is that the physical, the mental, and the ‘pranic’ or the energy-body, are not in alignment. The core of you is joy; over that there are four layers. If they are properly aligned, a natural expression, an overwhelming expression of joyfulness will naturally happen within a human being," explained Sadhguru in a recent introductory talk. "People may achieve this state in so many ways. Someone is listening to music and at a certain moment he experiences joyfulness because in that moment his physical body, mind, energy, everything is focused in one direction, and suddenly, a burst of joyfulness happens within. Maybe somebody is dancing, it happens with him. Maybe somebody is looking at something beautiful, it happens to him. These are all different ways that it may happen. Now (in Inner Engineering programs) we are looking at the technology of keeping these three bodies constantly aligned so that joyfulness is not an accidental happening; joyfulness becomes a normal condition, a natural way of living for you." 

According to one study- The study* of the brain activity of meditators demonstrated dramatic changes in electrical wave patterns in the brain after just 21 minutes of Shambhavi practice. These results included marked increases in the slow frequency delta and theta wave patterns characteristic of deep relaxation, and increased activity in areas of the brain important for alertness and focus. The EEG study also found marked increases in synchronization of wave patterns in the right and left sides of the brain. Referred to as 'whole-brain synchronization,' this phenomenon is commonly associated with more efficient and effective mental processing capabilities, including heightened mental clarity and sharper discrimination, better learning ability, and increased creativity.

The Shambhavi Mahamudra in itself is not too difficult and anyone can do it. Before the transmission, Sadhguru said that when we closed the eyes and sat there, we should forget all the other people that were there in the program. So for me, it should only be me and Sadhguru. That's it. We were even asked to sit away from our friends or relatives if we were sitting together. I think all this is important because this technique really is powerful and it can cause some reactions and because of that you should not become disturbed if something is happening to your friends and relatives. Your focus should be on yourself.

He also said that we needed to just relax completely and that he would not let anything happen to anybody. Since this deals with energy, what they have done is they have modified it so that people do not come to possess some kind of power because of the practice since they can cause harm to others if they can't or don't handle it properly. So now it is safe to transmit to so many people in general.

Before starting he even said that it could cause some reactions, to prepare the people, as it might be too shocking for some. It could happen that a scream came out of your mouth or a tear came. He said that it was not necessary that it should happen, but it could happen so to be prepared for it, not only if it happened to them , but if it happened to others around them, the neighbours.

We did it for 21 minutes. No reaction happened to me, but there was a very strong and clear sensation of trembling in my entire body. Immediately after that we had lunch break. I was holding the plate and I could literally feel my arm shaking. It did cause reactions to some people, crying, shouting, but it was ok. I had seen that in Dhyanalinga temple too so I did not mind. And that is also the reason people were asked to ignore all the other people there. The main mistake that people might make and do make is to think that why something is happening to other people and nothing is happening to them. They will feel that they have missed out or have not done something right etc. It is not necessary for any reaction to occur so it is best to ignore all others and focus completely on yourself. I think most people would have felt trembling and he said that the reason was that when the energy rises, the body is not able to handle it for the first time.

In the evening again we did the Shambhavi mahamudra for 21 minutes. And it is really an amazing experience. For my logical and intellectual mind, it would have appeared that maybe some people are 'planted' in there, perhaps they are the Isha people themselves crying and screaming in the audience to have the effect on others that something great is really going on because there was no reaction happening to most. No significant reaction happened to me so it is possible that I might think that it is all just fake, nothing is really going on. That could have been the case if my wife had not been with me. In the evening practice, she started crying uncontrollably. She was somewhere on my left, there was a woman somewhere on my right and she was crying even more loudly. Some of the volunteers had to come and make her ok, at the back someone was perhaps vomiting. This might seem a bit too much for some, but as I said it's best to ignore all that. I knew it was my wife crying but I wasn't thinking about it. Even after it ended, she was crying too much, tears were just flowing in streams. I had to calm her down and after some time she was ok. The thing is that my wife is one of those who cries when there is a very emotional scene going on in movies or on Tv serials etc. So it needs that kind of a person to cause this kind of reaction. She is sensitive or emotional enough to feel it that strongly to cause such a reaction. For me it is very difficult to cry so there was no such reaction but the feeling was just different. A strong experience.
Finally it ended at night and we left, a bit dazed by the experience.

It has been almost a month now and we have been doing the Shambhavi mahamudra practice twice daily. Some people asked about what to do if they missed the practice on a particular day or one time of the day. Sadhguru said don't start with such negative thoughts. And one significant statement which he made that I really liked and I fully agree to now is "There is no lack of time, only lack of commitment." Really true.

 If you ask me if the program has been beneficial, I would say yes. First the experience of being there for 3 days was in itself really good. Just some of the things that Sadhguru said had a big impact on me. It was really effective. One of the things that I remember the most is that people are always worrying what will happen to me, what will happen to me. He said that nothing will happen to you is the biggest tragedy. If you are alive means something should happen to you, you should experience life in its entirety, if you are so worried that nothing should happen to you then you should die, then you will be absolutely safe, nothing will happen to you. But it is my blessing that let everything happen to you.

This is just one of the things that I remember which had a big impact on me and that I remember very well. Similarly there were many such attitude changing things that worked in his presence. I have felt a good change after the program. My physical ailments like that of the stomach etc have not gone yet and in fact I think the practice itself causes some reactions like it but still overall it is good. It is suggested that people do Surya Namaskar to prepare the body, for Shambhavi if required.

At the end of the program, again there was music, songs and dance, people were also crying. Sadhguru walked down to and fro once just greeting the people with folded hands. Many were trying to take pictures of him even as the volunteers were asking them not to. Many were trying to touch him, shake hands with him or just get hi to look at them. He just slowly walked. That was the time when we got the closest to him and it really felt wonderful. He left but people kept calling out to him and he again appeared encouraging people to just dance and be joyful.

There had also been question answer sessions, in that someone had said that his life had been very miserable and what he could do now to make his next life better. Sadhguru answered that now that he had made the mistake of being with him, he would not have a future life. So the people who were planning on having 4-5 lives ahead would be disappointed.

At  the end of the Shambhavi Mahamudra, he also said that "I would be available to you in ways beyond your understanding."

Overall, just a wonderful experience. May many more people get this opportunity.

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