The Spirit of Kaivalyadhama

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.

Rejuvenation for Cancer Patients – Jyotsna’s Story

 

 

Jyotsna came to us for the Rejuvenation for Cancer Patients program in March 2015. A 35 year old Indian homemaker from Delhi, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. She did not have an operation or radiation however she did endure 32 chemotherapy sessions.

Her initial scores for Anger, Tension, Depression, Fatigue and Confusion were fairly high. She participated in the program diligently but being shy very rarely shared anything during the classes. She approached me a couple of times during the program as if wanted to open and talk but ended up in very reserved discussions. I was very happy to see her score at the end of the program. She showed one of the best improvements in all values comparing to others in the group.

After the program ended I had not heard from her for a long time. I knew that she went for another round of chemo as the cancer became active and I worried how she was taking it. She already endured so much!

3 months went by and it was time for follow up tests. I sent it to everyone and waited, wondering how she was doing. I half expected her to decline filling in the  tests as she was at the end of her chemo sessions, which is usually the most difficult and most vulnerable time for patients. However I was wrong – she did respond not only with fully completed tests but also put a lot of work into the response.

Usually, even with great improvements during the program between day 1 and the last day results, the 3 month results return slightly towards day 1 values and are usually worse than the day 20th test results. In my two years of running the program the best I saw in 3 months follow up was when patients maintained the 20th day result.

Jyostna’s Results

  Day 1Day 20th3 months
POMS Profile of Mood States    
Tension  

14

5

3

 
Depression 

27

3

1

 
Anger 

22

4

8

 
Vigor 

23

23

30

 
Fatigue 

13

6

2

 
Confusion 

14

3

3

 
Total score

57

-2

-13

 
      
HADS     
Anxiety 

9

5

2

 
Depression 

3

1

0

 
Total score 

12

6

2

 

Jyotsna’s results left me speechless.

Despite doing yet another round of chemo therapy she managed to improve her 20th day result !! (see above). Her Tension, Depression, Fatigue and Vigor values improved. Her Anger increased, which I often see as a simple reflection of patient’s higher awareness of their emotional state. Her Anxiety and Depression score also decreased. Overall POMS and HADS total scores improved dramatically.

I wrote to her asking how she is doing and here is her beautiful verbatim response:

“Hi Lee

I am glad that I am showing improved results, despite being on chemo. I will have my second last chemo on 20th of this month and last in the month of august, my birthday month.

The result has left me with tears in my eyes and your positive comment was very overwhelming.

Your guidance has further propelled me on path of self-discovery. I understand my body, my feelings, and my needs in a much better way now. After a long time I have realized that my body is prone to produce more acidic response when I am exposed to heat and prolonged high temperature. I understand my body better now. I am more aware of my emotions – lethargy … thirst… anxiousness … anger… jealousy… and best part is that I am accepting my feelings now. In a nutshell I understand my self now 🙂

My relationship with my husband has reached a new level. I am able to say things to him.. I would have never said before. At times I don’t think that it’s me… who is talking. I am often astonished by my own replies… that I can even say these things.  I have let down most of my guard and I feel so much at ease with myself. You know.  I can give in to my husband easily and comfortably now… It has really improved my relationship with him.  I also I enjoy time spent with my son more.

I do meditate regularly. There are days when I can’t even close my eyes because I am scared. There are days when I cry. I started my a diary where I write everyday… it has enabled me to mirror myself and look at myself and accept all my emotions with love and appreciation. 

 

Chronic Cures changes lives – Nick’s Story

I had decided to attend the three week course in October 2014 run by Lee Majewski at Kaivalydham in India South East of Mumbai as I was recovering from some severe arthritis following a period of feeling really unwell after food poisoning in Sri Lanka. Well, that was one demonstrable symptom but perhaps also, just getting older was another, having passed my seventy second birthday and deeply conscious that for the last lap of this race we all run, I needed to pay closer attention to my body and to my mind. I had at that stage not really thought about my heart.

The course was a daily programme of very gentle yoga postures, pranayama breath routines, awareness, study and chanting, not to mention lovely simple food day after day. A nice cocktail !! The first week is of course always the hardest and I duly struggled while at the same time noting an almost immediate increase in general vitality which I ascribed to pranayama. Looking back on the experience I now see just how deeply significant and necessary this practice of breath work really is. I had for years tried to meditate but it was not really until I started working with the breath that I realised that to watch the breath is to meditate. The gentle repetition day after day of these practices is the thing that does the trick and which is so difficult to do in UK with all its dear distractions.

The second week seems to be the week when “the stuff rises” so to speak and in my case this was most certainly the case. It took the form of finding myself almost uncontrollably angry at our course Leader ..poor Lee. This exploded one day and I attacked her verbally, an assault in the face of which she stood calmly firm and looked at me with increased attention. We subsequently had a chat about it and I realised I was projecting an old hatred born of fear onto her, and having seen it, as is the way with these things ..it collapsed and I was free of it, important in what was to happen next.

Kindly, I think partly as a result of this,  Lee started in our meditation sessions, to direct us to working on the heart centre (heart chakra as it’s called in the Indian Tradition). This for me was the crowning experience of my whole visit and I came to realise just how helpful the whole chakra system really is in helping us to unblock old wounds. I suppose I have here to own that, on reflection, in spite of many attempts to be otherwise, my heart still remained closed. This is a terrible condition and one I suspect very common in the west, for if the heart is closed, then “loving” is not really possible. We may seek “love” as hard as we like but “loving”, loving life, loving people, loving all experience, eludes us. A most painful condition that arises I suspect from very early birth or childhood traumatic experience in which the heart closes in order to survive. And when the heart closes out of these traumatic contacts with the world it builds around itself a hard casing like an old walnut that has sat beside the fire all winter. Hard and very difficult to crack open.

Working with the heart centre for us meant repeatedly bringing our attention to bear on the heart, imaginally breathing in and out of the heart, evoking in the heart positive emotions such as gratefulness, kindness, appreciation, mercy, and finally perhaps love itself. When I commenced this I have to say I was a bit suspicious. Was this just a new age dream ? Did in actually do anything ? It did !!

In one session quietly concentrating on my heart it suddenly burst into flame. I could not believe it; I suddenly had a veritable bonfire going in the area of the heart. Small to begin with it began to flower until my whole interior horizon was ablaze. The session finished and I was left dumb with wondering, weepy, slightly shaken, unsure of what had happened but realising something big really had happened .We dispersed for lunch and I wandered off on my own towards the kitchens. As I entered the courtyard a clear intuition came over me that I had not quite finished this piece of work and so, seeking out a chair under a tree, I re-entered my interior world and brought my attention back to the fire in my heart. Almost immediately I saw the fire glowing deep down inside me and my attention was taken by one small specific coal that seemed to glow more brightly than the others. In my imagination I picked this glowing coal up in my fingers and stared at it deeply. In a flash I  immediately vanished deep deep inside myself, deeper than in any meditation I had ever done before and I swam around inside myself like this for some minutes, head “deep under water” so to speak. I suddenly popped out again and went and had lunch !!

This experience has stayed with me when I returned to the UK and it’s as if a whole new dimension has arisen in my experience of being alive. I find it the most potent antidote to negative feelings and emotions. Should these crowd in upon me (as they are wont to do in grey old January London!!?) I simply bring my attention to the heart and circle around it with positive affirmations of emotions such as joy, loving gratefulness for what I have rather than what I do not have and lo and behold my negative feelings evaporate. As I usually do this in the early morning I come down to breakfast and my wife says “Why are you so damn cheerful”.

Also I think once we re-open this centre in ourselves a compulsion seems to arise, and it certainly did in me, to be more honest with ourselves and more straightforward and honest with others. I found myself being much more critical of myself in terms of relationships, wanting things straightforward, nothing concealed, a higher integrity as if the heart could not stand anything not quite right not straight and authentic. Finally it seemed to me as if one other essential faculty was restored to me through this heart centre work and that was that my gratefulness heart meditations turned into what I can only describe as praise . This did not seem to be praise to a specific God, or even an idea like it, but to something out and beyond my small self, something altogether larger and more powerful than myself to which the only right attitude seemed to be praise. This has given my life a new sense of direction in this respect and it is a joyful thing

So having completed this course and having been able to keep my practice going on my return to England my advice would be, chuck the anti-depressants away, stop rushing around trying to distract yourself with ever finer distractions, breath, meditate and bring your attention to the heart again and again until it fills you up. You may be surprised !

Thank you Lee, thank you Kaivalydham, I salute all your efforts to bring sanity to this crazy lovely planet of ours.

NAMASTE

NICHOLAS PEARSON