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Saturday, December 23, 2006

blessings of the season

last thursday, dec 21st, was the eve of my 50th birthday. it also happened to be the winter solstice, when the time between sunrise and sunset is at its shortest. or to look at it from another perspective, it was the first day of winter, when we start looking forward to more and more daylight as we move towards summer.

so it made perfect sense to celebrate that auspicious date with an equally auspicious celebration:

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Golden Bridge Solstice Celebration
6:00 PM Kundalini Yoga with Gurmukh
7:30 PM Darshan with Sri Swami Vishwananda

"When giving Darshan I touch people on the forehead and at the back of the head. By pressing my hand simultaneously on the Medula Point at the back of the head and the Ajna Chakra on the forehead (also called the third eye) the God-given life-energy that sustains our bodies and flows through everyone, is centered and sent to the heart, which makes it vibrate stronger and helps to open the heart. It may also be sent to different parts of the body where there is a lack of energy. It is important to understand, that the love which may be felt during Darshan is the love of the own inner Self, the own divine Soul.

To receive Darhsan or blessing from a master is a help, but it doesn't lead to "enlightenment". It doesn't release one to do daily meditation, introspection and other consistent spiritual practices. Nonetheless, Darshan and the peaceful atmosphere created by singing the divine names can be a significant support on the path.

My work is to open the hearts of people and make them realise they have a lot of love inside themselves — and that it’s very easy to give it away unconditionally to everyone around them. It’s really very simple. You just have to start doing it! "
- Swami Vishwananda

This night will also include kirtan featuring Geoffrey Gordon, Larisa Stow, Hariananda, Sura Das, Bolo, Girish, Vamadeva and friends!

after all, i got through the first fifty years of my life in one piece; to receive a blessing from one who is considered a holy man by many sounded like a good way to start the next fifty...

keeping in mind that i had to get to golden bridge in hollywood from my office in woodland hills during the height of rush-hour traffic, i gave myself an hour and a half for the 20-mile drive. the gods must have been looking out for me that evening; not only did i get there in only an hour (which really isn't that bad when you consider the thousands of other motorists sharing the road with me), but i found a FREE parking spot on the street a block away.

things continued to go my way once i walked into the studio. no one was in line at the front desk, so i signed in and paid for my class without delay. since i was there early, i got first dibs at a choice of spot in gurmukh's class. and since i was fortunate enough to get a spot by the entrance to our classroom, i was able to keep an eye on the goings-on in the large area right outside the room where the darshan was going to be held. once the early attendees started arriving, i ran out to lay down a blanket to reserve a prime spot for myself while i was in the kundalini class. with all bases covered, i lay back on my mat and waited for our solstice class to start.

the theme of our class was about becoming comfortable in the darkness before emerging into the light. it seemed particularly apt for me; with the physical, emotional, and financial difficulties i've been going through this past year, i definitely needed to emerge into a happier, more comfortable state.

with that in mind, i poured my mind and body into the class. i moved energetically and chanted lustily. at one moment, i was a frog, squatting and bending. then i was a rabbit hopping up and down. later, i was a crocodile flipping over onto my back, then back on to my belly. i was starting to feel ridiculous, but no matter; if it exorcised my demons, then so be it :)

when we formed a large circle for the healing ra ma da sa sa say so hung mantra chant towards the end of the class, i found myself gravitating to the middle of the room. i lay myself down to receive all the healing energy that was being given out by everyone in the group. and once we moved into savasana, while girish chanted us into deep relaxation, i let all that i had received sink in, hoping that i could hang on to it for as long as i could.

once class ended, i quickly picked up my belongings and moved outside to my pre-reserved spot in front of the stage.

before the darshan ceremony began, we were treated to a kirtan session with the temple bhajan band, who were accompanied by girish on the tabla as well as other talented musicians. once swami vishwananda made his appearance, we greeted each other with a "jai guru dev", and after his opening words and opening prayers, we chanted even more, this time with bolo. and just when i realized that it was getting very late and i needed to start heading home, the darshan finally began.

those with special needs found their way to the front of the line -- the old, the injured, the parents with young children. and even if there were so many people wanting a blessing, swami v gave an appropriate amount of attention to each person. the line moved very slowly; i began to wonder if it was worth hanging around. but i persevered, and in time, i found myself at the front of the line, waiting for my turn to receive a blessing.

when the assistant motioned for me to take my place in front of the swami, i knelt on the pillow at his feet. he anointed my forehead with a waxy substance and held my head in his hands. he then placed some rose petals and a small packet of sacred ash in my hands, a sign that my time with him was over. i returned to my spot, gathered my stuff, and walked out into the cool december evening.

now that i've been blessed, all i have to do is wait and see if anything good results from it...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy late birthday Joni!!!! May the blessings show up when you least expect it, may you continue to be surprised by life itself :)

3:54 PM  
Blogger joni said...

thanks for the happy wishes, elsie, and i'm definitely looking forward to pleasant surprises!

9:30 PM  

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