“Bhava Spandana is like making a person jump and look beyond the wall. He sees beyond his limitation experientially. Once he sees that, he knows that he must go over the wall one day to see what is on the other side.”
Today, I wish I was a writer. But I’m not. I write like the stereotypical startup CEO/ tech investor – in bullets the length of tweets with key takeaways. So how am I to do justice in sharing a life-changing experience with you all? Forgive me in advance for my linguistic inadequacies in sharing my experience with Sadhguru’s Bhava Spandana program.
To make this writing exercise even more of a ropes course, we all signed non-disclosures and can’t share the heart and soul of the program. So I am simply sharing what I experienced “inside” as per guidance from ISHA. Enjoy!
How We Met
My interest in meditation fired up around November of 2015, two months into a severe health crisis. Like most agnostics in a crisis, I began searching for answers to questions such as, “what happens after death” and, “can you heal through mind control.” After watching a few dozen Youtube videos, I stumbled into Sadhguru answering the question about death, life, and meditation for healing.
The more I heard this motorbike riding, white-bearded, crazy witty, straight shooter making statements like, “don’t believe anything till you experience it” the better I felt. To my husband’s dismay, I started doing his meditation, “I am not the body, I am not the mind” daily. According to my husband, Sadhguru sounded downright frightening. But that meditation freed my frightened mind from obsessing about my frail body. It gave me strength and peace of mind, which as it turns out is crucial to get into the healing zone.
Why I went
Hundreds of little changes later, I started to heal and the first thing I did when I was strong enough to stay awake an entire day was taken Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering with Shambhavi Mahamudra program. Why? Because of the scientific proof that it makes you smarter. And I was seriously worried I had lost a few million brain cells during my illness. I wanted to get them back! That 21-minute meditation was my first brush with bursting lights and fading images during the practice. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly very curious. It also accelerated my healing, as I am now convinced.
So when I received an invitation for Bhava Spanadana (BSP), 4 days and 3 nights advanced meditation residential program in Tennessee, I had to apply. First time around it sold out in 20 minutes and I got on the waitlist for 2018. This October I finally made it with four dear friends to experience the “other dimension” and pure bliss.
The word Bhava literally means “sensation.” Spandana can be loosely translated as “resonance.” Hence the promise of experiencing sensations of bliss and joy.
Here’s how they describe it- This advanced meditation program is designed by Sadhguru to provide the opportunity to go beyond the limitations of body and mind and experience higher levels of consciousness. Bhava Spandana offers the experience of a world of unbounded love and joy.
Getting to the Promised Land
We had taken a red-eye flight, and then the shuttle at 9 am, which got lost and took 4 hours instead of 2 hours to deliver us to the promised abode.
A small group on the bus started chanting a mantra meant to bring us closer to Sadhguruhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q45ogMnKwc
I continued to take in my first view of the beautiful countryside of Nashville while craving cashews and kombucha (neither of which I had brought per instructions!).
When we finally did arrive, it was like a giant copper half dome in the middle of a deep forest. That emotion of curious surprise would be the theme of emotions for me over the next several days.
I am not at liberty to share my experiences each day so will share a general summary:
My first experience of Sadhguru was both beautifully funny and traumatic.
Sadhguru’s first words hit home to many of us with its deep perception and wittiness!
That continued throughout the program- he was either making us laugh hysterically or cry deeply. His deep yet obvious insights through funny parables reminded me of how a thoughtful father would share his wisdom with his children.
It was also my first truly traumatic experience of over 30 years.
I can’t share anything other than the fact that I hadn’t been this moved since a childhood experience on a trip to India. The program continued to shake, melt, tug, fire away at my heart full throttle.
There were experiences that had me watching transfixed.
Then there were experiences where I had to blink furiously to confirm I wasn’t hallucinating.
My curious scientific mind tried to analyze it all despite the constant reminder this was an “experiential” program and logical rational analysis wouldn’t yield expected answers.
For someone with my structured engineering mindset that was the first hurdle. I kept trying to find patterns, connect the dots and all the other cliches our mind resorts to with an unfamiliar situation,
But the moment Sadhguru spoke, my mind would quieten its “Sherlock Homes” tendencies and drink in this very human mystic with his self-deprecating humor.
The next four days we meditated, did various practices and followed the “Sadhguru Plan” that really no one shared with you till the moment you needed the information.
While I am unable to share the specific experiences that I am bursting to share, here are the reasons I call it my rebirth!
And that’s not hyperbole, I am just stating a fact.
1. The new truth about life and death
We are all raised with specific shared beliefs about “life” and “death. My beliefs were- life is great, death is not. Life must be protected and must be dedicated to excelling at education, work, marriage, child-raising etc. That excellence must be pursued with a serious intensity layered with moments of socializing and celebrations.
What I walked away with – life is neither the body nor the mind, nor to be taken any more seriously than a game. Translation- play to win but have a blast doing it and don’t take anything, especially yourself, too seriously!
Death is just a transition, it’s not “the end” and certainly nothing to fear.
How that translates into my re-birth:
I made a call to my 18-year-old college daughter saying, “Find a career you love, forget everything I have been instilling.” She still thinks its some reverse psychology I am trying on her!
What difference does it make if she becomes a neonatal surgeon if that means her entire life is devoid of giggles, smelling flowers and playing outside in the sun.
Life is meant to be enjoyed with your entire being- passionately, wholeheartedly, fearlessly, unconditionally. Anything that deters from that is taking away from the life we are meant to experience.
2. I am you.
I am also the leaf, the apple, the almond, the Korean boy, the blonde woman. I am not a physical entity but an energetic manifestation in a temporary body.
I know I know, we have all heard this before. But until you EXPERIENCE it you don’t really INTERNALIZE it. I knew this in my head but not my heart.
Now my heart has experienced it over three days. I have momentarily forgotten my physical boundaries and found myself in little objects.
How that translates into my re-birth:
If I am YOU how can I hurt YOU? I suddenly understand the Jains and other sects that don’t want to hurt even plants much fewer animals. Oh, the stories I could share about my experiences and those of others as we came to this realization. All I can say is, if this program was mandatory for every child we would change our entire planet in one generation.
We would rid wars, hate, anger, bloodshed, despair.
3. I am not the body, I am not even the mind
I saw I experienced, I believe.
We are more than our physical body and our mind.
The meditation, “I am not the body, I am not even the mind,” that I did for over a year when very sick has taken a whole new sense of truth. I used to chant that mantra like a parrot, without truly believing the message. Now, I don’t need to chant it, I already know it.
I have experienced proof.
How that translates into my re-birth:
So much of a woman’s self-worth is linked to her body perception, as designed by the trillions spent on media.
Almost all our beliefs come from our family, society, media. We listen, we believe.
Sadhguru teaches to question everything, “Only believe what you experience.” The mind can lie by repeating someone else’s lie. But your experience will be the truth.
So the goal of the program is to give you the “experience” to finally comprehend Sadhguru’s message.
The program did deliver that for me. I truly believe for the first time that this body and mind are artificial constructs. I had heard Oprah say this in a meditation session with Deepak Chopra, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It now resonates with me.
How does that realization feel?
I feel lighter, more joyous, unburdened. My context for life has changed.
If I am a physical body and mind having a temporary life, then everything in this life takes on monumental importance. Not so much with the realization that the truth is quite the opposite.
It’s time to have some real fun in my remaining decades!
4. There is magic inside each of us
We had finished a meditation and Sadhguru asked us to stare intently at his eyes. This was unusual as he was typically reprimanding us to keep our eyes closed. I heard him distinctly say, “Look intently!” and I thought, “Fine I’ll look intently already.” As I stared, his face begins to turn pale white and then broke into psychedelic pieces which seemed to appear and disappear. And then fade some more. I apparently laughed a bit hysterically and said a bit too loudly, “are you seeing this! Oh my god, are you seeing this?” In our little corner, I may have been the only one to experience this powerful shifting of his energies that made his face fade away and break into moving psychedelic patterns.
Then suddenly he was talking again and his dusky, strong, white-bearded face was back.
Several folks came over and asked me what I saw as they hadn’t seen anything unusual. One of those was a gentleman who was able to answer my questions about what I had seen. He knew a lot about Sadhguru’s display of almost supernatural energy manipulation.
But it’s interesting how this part of his abilities is not promoted or more actively shared. If it had been, I would have been more prepared for the program. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t have attended. Maybe I would have feared what I don’t understand. We, humans, tend not to trust people who are not like us.
Then I would have missed an experience of a lifetime.
Sadhguru is clearly not like us.
We then proceeded to do a “special” meditation which held the potential for some of us to experience another dimension.
After the meditation, which pushed every boundary, I was disappointed that a portal didn’t open or another dimension show itself to me. Maybe I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, oh well.
Of course, we all cried in unison with our partners for a third of this meditation. Crying and laughing were our two states- laughing when Sadhguru spoke and crying when he made us meditate.
After lunch, we came back to a very interesting practice/meditation.
So here I was, half asleep, my thoughts on the cashews that were waiting for me when I got home when I suddenly heard Sadhguru’s voice change from serene and explaining to irritated and booming – ordering us to focus and stop getting distracted.
I thought, “how does he know we’re distracted,” as I focused on the instructions.
And then what happened will forever be my moment of rebirth.
I got drunk. Full-fledged intoxicated- with giggles and euphoric joy. As we were given instructions, I forced my eyes open (they seemed glued shut) and started to walk with a very unsteady gait and a very steady beaming grin. My mind said, “Yup Reena you are fully drunk for the first time in a decade!” And that thought made me burst out into a full belly laugh. My husband would get a kick out of this, I thought.
I had stopped drinking in September of 2015 and even prior to that I would have a couple of drinks on weekends and nothing more. What I missed most about drinking was the pure joy at silly things that alcohol used to induce in me.
But this was different than just intoxication, it had a visual perception modification too. Everything looked clean and clear as if washed by fresh rain. I thought I smelled something fragrant. It’s as if everything had just become so much more beautiful, even the people!
As I gazed at a sea of slow-moving people, I saw slight frowns and no beaming smiles. I wanted to yell out loud, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you laughing…”
That thought made me want to do something silly to cheer them all up, which then led me to burst into more giggles. I walked outside and found three blades of grass to focus on and “be with”. But then I saw this tiny little single white flower, swaying in the breeze by itself and fell in love with it.
I wanted to save that little flower from the trampling feet that might hurt it. I wanted to plant more flowers to give it company. That flower became so important to me that I visited it daily till we left.
So, I understand why people call it the rebirth.
I no longer look at life the same way.
Because life is not what I thought it was.
I am not the body. I am not even the mind.
I am an energy- powerful, knowing and giddy with joy. I am also silly and playful and have no cares.
And I really do love everyone. Even the folks I was not interested in getting to know when I walked into Mahima. You know, the ones that don’t look and talk like me. Now I was chatting with them like old friends.
It’s hard to explain this experience that I so desperately want you to understand. So, I’ll try this analogy.
Remember when you were little and believed in Santa and the Tooth fairy? Then they told you that was Daddy and Mommy and there really were no flying reindeer or magic? Remember your heartbreak?
It’s like that but in reverse.
It’s like finding out there IS magic and it’s real and it’s inside us just waiting to be released.
This magic has one purpose, to make you laugh and be in pure bliss.
The magic to be truly unconditionally joyful simply through some breathing. Ok, maybe it’s not that simple, but neither was walking and we all mastered that.
I’m ecstatic at this discovery. Everyone must know. Why don’t more people know? Why isn’t this taught like we are taught to walk and talk? Why aren’t we taught to ignite the magic that makes us love everyone?
Can you imagine a World overflowing with love and laughter?
That’s the world I want for my kids and grandkids. So they can truly live life to it’s highest potential.
I stayed in a bit of a haze for hours and it only left once I took a nap. That night we had a full-fledged party into the early hours with dancing and singing and games!
I woke up feeling like usual, extremely groggy and starving. I wondered if my experience had been real. I wondered if I would ever experience it again.
As we did our morning practice, I experienced the same rising of joy and laughter. Yes! It was real and it was back!
It was more a sense of calm bliss vs the intoxicated joy. But I was thrilled to experience it again. We then settled in to hear Sadhguru share some more of his witty wisdom. He shared fascinating stories which made us laugh hysterically despite the fact that each story had a moral and we were really sitting in a sermon. Thankfully there were no heavier physically and emotionally draining practices. We laughed and cried some more, ate, got our valuables back and bid adieu to Mahima and Sadhguru that evening at 7 pm.
On the flight back
As I closed my eyes, exhausted, scenes flashed by like a train through a countryside. I smiled despite my aches and pains at scenes of dancing, giggle unabashed, crying soulfully. I had been through an entire lifetime of emotions in 5 days. All I felt now was gratitude. How fortunate that forces had conspired to give me this experience of a lifetime.
As I reflect further, here are some fundamental ways in which my perspective of our World has changed and a few other notables:
Resonance: We are resonating with every other human, animal, grass, rock on this planet. We are all exactly the same. Feeling this resonance has given me deeper empathy for everything. I keep thanking my food every time I eat, as it’s life that has sacrificed itself to keep me alive.
Mortality: I’m now keenly aware of my mortality, not as a distant possibility but an inevitability. Which means every moment must be enjoyed to the max. Translation – I am questioning everything that destroys my happiness, such as watching Trump news, and eliminating it from my life if possible.
Change: This tsunami of change in me has come from experiencing for myself certain energies. It didn’t come from listening to Sadhguru or Osho or any of the other exalted beings of our time. These experiences that brought about change in me over the 5 days were, simply put, traumatic.
But all change is hard.
Changing your fundamental beliefs in your mid-40s is typical “mission impossible.” So, I think I’m permitted to feel a tiny bit accomplished at having shattered my old mold to create a new me.
And If I can do it, so can you!
Detox: Gone are a lot my cravings- for a special type of pillow, for my bowl of nuts every hour, Kombucha, binge-watching Blacklist…In hindsight, I’ve been a prisoner of my habits and I feel released.
I am in charge: Destiny, Karma, fate are words we are brought up with, especially us Indians. It’s heartening to know our lives are a “creation in progress” with us being the master creator of our own life experience. I feel stronger, more in control.
The new big bodacious goal: My new big goal is to keep this newly lit flame of awareness alive. There have been inadvertent attempts at stomping it out by extremely well-meaning friends. But fortunately I have four friends who were on this journey with me, and together we will stay rooted in our truth instead of dissolving into our old beliefs.
My experience was unique to me and my gratitude is boundless. My friends had very different experiences. You can watch the official video for Bhava Spandana to hear experiences of other participants.
You can learn more about the program here including the cost of Bhava Spandana and upcoming dates.
Yes, I have continued to experience the “high” every time I do my practice, which means I am never missing a day of practice ever again!
No, Mom and Dad, you haven’t lost your only daughter to a cult or an ashram, and I am not a “devotee” of Sadhguru. The way Steve Jobs taught me marketing mastery, Sadhguru is teaching me life mastery.