Sixteen years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to join a meditation group. I rang a couple of the more well-known ones from the Yellow Pages but they didn’t answer. Maybe they were on holidays. I kept trying all during January. By the time February had arrived I had given up on them.
I was feeling stressed, having just gone through a marriage break-up. I had read many self-help books, been to counselling, and joined various groups on assertiveness, self-esteem and similar topics. I had had health problems for many years and had tried all sorts of things from vitamin supplements, to books advocating affirmations to cure the various illnesses. Some things I tried were a little helpful but I was becoming confused as they were not consistent with each other and were even contradictory. I thought there must be some ultimate truth. That’s what I needed to find.
I had decided to look for a Buddhist or Hindu meditation group. I had been brought up a Christian but had not been convinced by their arguments and had never felt that going to church or praying had been helpful to me. I had done Hatha Yoga in my teenage years and had found the relaxation techniques we did at the end of the class beneficial. The yoga teacher had spoken about Hinduism and Buddhism and I had found it interesting. I was looking for a meditation that would make me feel better, help me to find peace and enable me to forgive and to stop feeling angry and bitter.
I had heard about Sahaja Yoga but didn’t know anything about it. I decided that as nothing else had worked out I would go along and try it. The first class I went to was interesting and the people were friendly but I didn’t feel very much. They said that Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, was visiting Australia and was holding a free public lecture the following week. I decided to attend.
A half hour before I had to leave I still hadn’t organised a baby-sitter. Out of the blue my ex-husband rang and asked if he could take our son to Cubs. I said, “Yes”, and asked if he would like to have our daughter over for a visit as I wanted to go out. Suddenly I was free to go.
I sat in the front row at the Canberra Playhouse and after an introductory talk by a Sahaja Yogi, all of a sudden a great stillness fell over the hall and there was absolute silence and a feeling of great anticipation and expectation hung in the air. It gave me goose bumps. At that moment Shri Mataji slowly walked onto the stage from behind the curtain.
I was surprised that Shri Mataji looked like a very soft, natural, gentle and unassuming, short, Indian woman. I liked her instantly. I had been expecting someone much more made-up, more sophisticated, harder, more brash, more like a saleswoman. I thought she looked like a simple and naïve woman and I hoped that this sophisticated and intellectual Canberra audience wouldn’t heckle her. I needn’t have worried. I now realise that what I saw then as naïvety was an absolute confidence based on total innocence and complete fearlessness.
She gave a lecture in which everything she said related to my life. She spoke about how a lot of Christians were not as they were supposed to be, which had been my experience, and she talked about how in these modern times men had women fooled. She spoke about acupuncture which I had had that day and about how Sahaja Yoga cures illnesses. The lecture answered all my concerns and I felt as if it was directed at me. She had an incisive intellect, she was an excellent speaker and her lecture was wide-ranging, humorous, surprising, insightful, witty and delivered with great passion and conviction.
We went through the Self-realisation process, and again I didn’t feel the cool breeze at the top of my head. I didn’t really expect to, I suppose, as I wasn’t sure if it was real or if it was some kind of a con. Then Shri Mataji said that she was happy to meet anyone who would like to meet her. I had never followed a guru before, being wary of them after seeing exposés of various gurus in the late 1970s, but I felt that Shri Mataji seemed to be a person of dignity and integrity. She didn’t appear to be a charlatan.
When my turn came she was smiling at me as I walked towards her. She had her whole attention on me and I felt like she was pouring huge soothing waves of love and compassion over me. She looked at me as if she knew me very well and she didn’t say anything for a while as if she was waiting for me to recognise her and remember who she was. She seemed to know me so well I started wondering if I’d met her before anywhere, but I hadn’t.
Then Shri Mataji asked me to put my hands out, palms upward. She looked intently at my palms. She asked if I had felt the cool breeze. I lied and said, “Yes”. She knew I was lying and asked incredulously, “Did you?” Again I lied. She said, “Oh well, now you’ve got it. You must keep on with it and fix it all up”. And then she turned her attention to the next person in the queue and I felt like the floodlight of her love and attention that I had been bathed in was suddenly turned off and I was left in cold, hard reality.
Shri Mataji had had an enormous impact on me. She was so natural and down-to-earth, so wise and knowledgeable, so soft and unassuming, yet so strong and powerful. She had infinite patience, meeting each person in the long queue and giving each of them the individual attention she had given me. She was caring, compassionate and full of loving kindness and understanding. And so generous as she didn’t stand to gain financially from this free lecture.
I realised that Sahaja Yoga was vastly different from the various New Age philosophies I had been dabbling in, and that I had paid a lot of money for, and I resolved to give Sahaja Yoga a serious go.
So, for the last sixteen years, since that time, I have been practising Sahaja Yoga, meditating every day and clearing my chakras. I have found not only what I was seeking, but much more. I am less stressed, my health has improved, I am no longer angry and bitter and I have learnt to forgive. It took a while but I now feel the cool breeze at the top of my head. I have discovered the essence of the teachings of Christ, Buddha, the Hindu sages and all the great prophets, and found that they are not contradictory. And best of all, I have found joy, peace of mind and a sense of real meaning in my life. Thank you, Shri Mataji!