by Laura Tolbanos (Spain)

I had read about Kaivalyadhama while doing the research project in psychology, which I have been developing over the last four years.

I have been working as a psychologist and a yoga teacher in Spain for 11 years now. In my opinion, there is no deeper psychological therapy than yoga practice.

It was during my stay last summer in S-VYASA, Bangalore, where I interacted with several people, who had visited Kaivalyadhama. My enthusiasm to see this place grew manifold. I found Kaivalyadhama as the pioneer centre in yoga research and as a reference centre, in philosophical and scientific research, in yoga training, as well as, the therapeutic application of yoga, Ayurveda and naturopathy.

Thus, the initial purpose of my visit to Kaivalyadhama was to get first-hand information about the research and therapeutic application of yoga. And subsequently, also to delve into the theoretical framework and the philosophical roots that underpin it. However, deep within me, I was looking for something beyond the academic matters, stroking the sensation, as if in a sort of subtle prediction, that something vital would be revealed to me.

My first days at the institute were coordinated through the gentle hands of the scientific research staff, Ms. Akshata and Dr. Praseeda Menon (who became a good friend). Both were my personal angels in Kaivalyadhama. They facilitated my tour of the campus and introduced me to all staff, so that I could carry on my interactions with them during my stay. Then, throughout my stay, Praseeda looked after me, she took care of me and made me feel at home (she even organized a small party for my birthday when she coincidentally found out!) Towards the end of my stay, we both wished we had much more time to talk and share about ourselves. I pointed out that this clearly is the beginning of a good friendship.

As expected, I learned about the therapeutic application of yoga, attending the classes of the yoga therapists. I spoke to the medical staff about yoga therapy for psychiatric disorders and common ailments. Attending the lectures of Dr. Rajeshwar Mukherjee and classroom discussions help me get oriented to yoga philosophy. I knew, that I have to go much deeper into this vast subject.

The dedication to work, support and service to others, honesty in the daily practice of yoga, and the hospitality and affection that all of the Kaivalyadhama´s people showed me, turned out to be the best proof that I had made the right choice, that all of them walked in the true path of yoga, and its true meaning was present in their everyday life. Gradually, I had started feeling that I had immersed myself in the spirit of Kaivalyadhama.

Professor R. S. Bhogal, the Head of the Scientific Research Department and the meditation expert, accepted my request to learn the correct intonation of the Gayatri Mantra and accompanied me in the practice of meditation, showing a particular and novel approach. Under his guidance, I could delve without difficulty into that state of calm and fullness, which is always present inside us. The spirit of Kaivalydhama lived in each mantra, in each meditation, and the more I practiced, it became stronger and more intense inside me.

Something more waited to unravel when I went to Swamiji’s kuti. That was when I began to discover the main reason why I was there, the real learning that was waiting to happen hidden under the ‘excuse’ of my academic concern. The place fascinated me; I felt clothed by the energy that prevailed there, and I could enjoy the comforting presence of Swamiji and the loving kindness and hospitality of Angelica.

I loved to listen, ask and try to understand with the heart, all the wisdom that this generous man was always willing to share. In the evenings, I attended the Puja at the kuti, a regular event there. For me, it was the best way to end the day, opening my soul, meditating, internalizing, and connecting, through the prayer and the mantras. When the day ended and I retired to my room, I slept full of the spirit of Kaivalydhama.

The stay at Kaivalyadhama has inspired me to develop new ideas and explanatory lines for my doctoral thesis. I am now considering projects and collaborative work with Kaivalyadhama because of my heartwarming experiences. I also plan to return next year to complete my doctoral training.

Above all, it has opened exploration paths for myself, ways of understanding the true meaning of my life and my professional activity. Ways that I should walk and experience for myself, to reach the full understanding of yoga and integrate it within me. Ways, I suspect, that lead me to a kind of transformation!

Now, back home, when I am sitting in front of my students and my patients, at the beginning of my yoga sessions, or when I am sitting in meditation, I close my eyes and I evoke the spirit of Kaivalyadhama, and I can feel that its energy, which now is also mine, begins to flow.

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