Peace of mind- we have all heard this phrase being used in daily conversation. What it means to me does not necessarily have to be the same for a business man, or for a software engineer or any number of those other professionals we come across in our day to day lives. As for me, peace of mind has meant being happy and contented with what God has given and seeing my glass as half full rather than half empty.
Right from when I was very young, I remember family members talking about this all-elusive peace of mind. The conclusions I came up with from those philosophical conversations were that complete and consistent peace in our lives would be difficult to attain. Perhaps a little naïve, but I believed that now since I had Amma on my side, I could very well attain the peace I wanted in my life with her help. Having come from a religious background, I prayed. Nevertheless, it seemed to me that the more I prayed the more disturbed and less peaceful I became. Life had become very confusing and the peace I was after was turning out to be even more remote.
So, I visited several religious bookstores like The Vedanta Center Bookstores, Amritapuri Ashram Bookstore and read as many books on peace that I could. My pursuit and obsession of the topic, however, did not stop there. The more I strived to gain this intangible peace, the more unattainable it became.
My quest for ‘Shanti’ (peace) even took me towards CD’s. I bought several, but there was one I had bought from the Vedanta Center called “Shantimantras” by Swami Harshananda that I listened to constantly. I took it with me everywhere. I listened to it in my car, downloaded it into my iphone and listened to it while I worked out. I even listened to it when I went grocery shopping. Nonetheless, I did not gain any ‘Shanti’ from this process other than memorizing a few of the Sanskrit slokas. In my obsession for gaining peace, I listened to taped discourse of the Upanishads, and even searched Amazon.com in the hopes of coming across a quick remedy for peace. But, this too was unsuccessful.
I was starting to feel hopeless until three years ago when I came across Amrita Yoga during one of my visits to Amma’s Amritapuri Ashram. Here, after a 4-Day Amrita Yoga Retreat, I was starting to see the light at the end of the long tunnel. However, I had not made the connection between the peace I had felt and the yoga classes I had taken.Therefore, the serenity and harmony I experienced during those four days were short-lived.
For another two and a half years I struggled and had hit the proverbial ‘rock bottom.’ All the same I continued praying, listening to Shanthi mantras on YouTube, Amma’s Bhajana, and taped discourses (on CD’s) of the Upanishads. While listening to the Upanishads, I was so keen on attaining peace that I used to take notes as I listened. I would reread them to see if I had missed anything that was said. While doing these practices, I become aware of my thoughts and negativities that I had not noticed before. I concluded that I would rather learn to identify with the thinking and behaviors taught by Amma and the scriptures.
I learned from a very young age, through elder family members, about right and wrong and that we experience the results of good or bad actions through karma. Then after becoming an Amma devotee, Amma too had several satsanga on this topic.
Three more years had passed since the peace in my life had been shattered. I struggled through these difficult times and my only answer to save myself was prayer. However, I was amazed because the more I prayed the stronger, more vivid and detailed these thoughts became.
Life continued in the mundane manner and there was still no remedy to attaining my peace. It seemed like every time I logged on Amma’s website conversations had turned to Amrita Yoga. There was always at least one article on Amma’s website. Then, in June of this year, while Amma was in Los Angeles, She told me to do an eighteen week long teaching project in her Davangere Amrita Vidyalayam School. I was finally coming back to India. I also realized that I would be able to do Amrita Yoga again. During the Diwali Holidays October 2014, it finally happened. Amrita Yoga made a week-long visit to Amma’s Danvangere Amrita Vidyalayam School.
Right before leaving Davangere, Amrita Yoga was en route to another one of Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayam School in Belgaum also in Karnataka. I had an opportunity to take a two- day retreat. With Amrita Yoga, I tasted some of this peace I had been after but did not find elsewhere. I realized how much it helped to immerse myself in Amrita Yoga too.
Immersion is the key to success. When teaching English to Spanish speaking students, teachers immerse them in the English language. Similarly, Brahmacharini Shobhana, our yoga instructor taught us the asana with love and patience and immersed us with the yoga and its history. Being familiar with yoga and having taken the several classes, I had practiced most of the asanas before. These unique exercises are varied between asanas that require upper-body strength, and others which entailed flexibility, balance, and strength of one’s legs.
In the book Power of Now the author Eckhart Tolle quoted the following, “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” If this is true, then I know I’m heading in the right direction.
Author: Rema Menon