ANS at the Yogafestival
The months preceding the training were a fairly intense period of integrating the practice into my life and rising to challenges made to my sense of identity. In my mind, the week in 'Le Martinet' was promising to be a break from this inner conflict. Then during the week I was challenged in ways I could not have anticipated. The experience of extremes that became part of the exploration of each element pushed me to know my boundaries. I found it a distinct challenge to be around 180 people when I lacked social energy, both because I have a tendency to put pressure on myself to 'engage' at all times and also because I find it hard to accept the support of others unconditionally, which came in great amounts.The depth of struggle endured - inexplicable at times - then unexpectedly finding the spontaneous capacity to respond intuitively to unknown situations. This showed me that guidance comes when we let go. It is a universal guidance through which we are all teachers. I now realise a new sensitivity to how I am affected by the energy of other people and environments. Engaging with the less superficial, more fundamental dynamics of interactions, makes it easier to be nonjudgmental of myself and others. Through the training I have gained more courage to ask for the things that I know to be true, to become more steady and present in my life.
Sangat was perhaps a notion that inspired some fear before the training week as it had connotations of a 'separate' community that might manipulate and reshape my identity, somehow forcing me to sever links with existing companions. Now I see it as a thing of beauty; voluntarily and organically formed. Both at 'Le Martinet' and at the Yoga Festival, I saw the perceived limitations of the individual - those which make unconditional support seem impossible - be overcome through the collective intention, the sangat. I felt sangat was hugely strengthened by group meditation as everyone could understand that each person was trying to go beyond their ego self and to touch the continuous undying part. There is no hierarchy or separation in this. It allowed me to say and hear the words 'I love you' without any undertones of indebtedness or possessiveness.
It was my seva duty at Le Martinet to clean the gurdwara. This presented some immediate challenges because I have never followed any spiritual practice that included a place of worship. I had some uncertainty about the attitude of reverence and devotion connected with material forms. It was through simply doing the task and facing the resistance, that the true value of the task began to be revealed. The process is the gift of seva once it becomes a meditation. At times it was mechanical but progressively it became an opportunity to meditate. It became clearer that an inner cleansing could happen through this outer cleansing.
For me the true guru waits and is always close by and available. It takes courage to go there. We meet the guru when we enter the unknown without fear. During a kriya on the intensive week, I experienced deeply held anger that had not surfaced in me before. One of the ANS teachers encouraged me though I was uncertain to come into her arms - and there I knew unconditional love. I was able to filter and process a vast quantity of negative energy in this space. To receive this beautiful gift and teaching required my surrender. You could say it was an expression of the guru.
The week for me was about taking away the glimpses of lessons given in those moments of expanded consciousness. It is these that i emphasise in this writing because, if nothing else i have gained through training, more courage to ask for the things that i have known to be true to be become more steady and present in my life