Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Month at the Bangalore Ashram

A Month at the Bangalore Ashram

Just back from a little over a month at the Bangalore Ashram…I had an amazing time and can’t wait to hopefully go back this Fall.  I received Darshan from Gurudev three times.  Simply amazing.
I arrived on January 29th and started doing my Netra eye treatments at the Panchakarma Spa and Resort ( right next to the Bangalore Ashram.  After just 12 days, my eye sight prescription improved by 1 point.  I went from a -3.5 to a -2.5 power.  The eye doctor there thought I was too old to see any improvement and was so happy when I improved by a point.  The eye treatments and exercises coupled with the Ayurveda café are a treat.  The 12 day treatment was like a vacation.   Seeing Gurudev many evenings at Satsang was a gift.
After one week at Panchakarma, I shifted to the Ashram housing and stayed with 3 roommates including a senior teacher from Argentina.  I feel lucky to have met Ishmael from Argentina.  During this time, I finished up the balance of my 12 day treatments and did Seva in the kitchen.  I loved serving dinner in the kitchen and had the chance to serve some of our North America senior teachers including Pierre, Rajshree Didi, Michael Fischman, and the Frasers.
In early February, I was able to attend the evening events during the International Womens Conference (  The events were over the top and I felt like I was at Navratri again.  The conference hosts went all out and had really impressive performances, dinners, speakers, singers, flyers, and décor.  The Womens Conference was so well organized and so well decorated that I felt so proud to be a part of the Art of Living.  I hope many of the women I know will attend next year!
After Panchakarma, I checked into the Sri Sri Ayurveda Hospital ( - great video with Gurudev) for 5 days.  I had 4 full days of Ayurvedic treatments to alleviate my back pain.  The physiotherapist there, for the first time in months after many different doctors, accurately diagnosed me with postural scoliosis.  He laid out a plan with exercises to alleviate the postural scoliosis within 6 months.  I was so impressed with the Ayurvedic doctors and staff at the hospital that I setup a meeting with the hospital HOD (Head Of Department).  I am hoping to sponsor some updates to the meditation hall at the hospital.  For the first time in almost a year, my back spasm is completely gone.  The full body in-patient Abhyanga massage, other hot oil Ayurveda back treatments, and daily exercises healed my aching spine.
I had a day to spare and signed up for the Eternity process.  The process is too sacred to share / comment on, but I hope everyone gets the chance to do this lifetimes opening process.  We get to the Eternity process only three times in one lifetime. 
I then convinced my cousin-nephew to join me on an Art of Living Yes+ residential course at the Ashram.  Here’s where is gets GREAT.  The Yes+ teacher let me partly co-teach the course and I led the first Long Kriya process, wrap-up, some knowledge points, and the paper plate process.  I had such a blast and felt like a dream came true that weekend.  I made some great young friends and will hopefully get my other nephew to do Yes+ in the US later this year.  Our Yes+ students had Darshan with Gurudev and I got the chance to give Gurudev my new wooden business card and ask Gurudev to bless my nephew for his university studies in the US.
Next up, I checked in for the Shivatri AMC (Advanced Meditation Course) – Silence Course with Gurudev.  The silence was ok, but seeing Gurudev and doing one to two daily guided meditations with Gurudev everyday was GREAT.  On Shivatri day, after evening Puja (my first Shivatri Sankalpa), Gurudev gave everyone that was at the Ashram Darshan from midnight until 2:30am..I remember reading about how Mikey stayed up all night for Shivatri in Stumbling into Infinity and Gurudev even mentioned the tradition during Satsang.  So I stayed up all night doing seva, meditations and Kriya.  At 5am, we had a Puja and I took my 2nd Sankalpa during the Puja.  By 8am or so, I was exhausted and hit the sack! J
The last two days of the Shivatri AMC, we did Shakti Kriya and the experience was once again very powerful.  I could barely sleep the 2nd night and had to rest and skip the afternoon sessions of the silence course.
We finally ended the last evening of March 3rd with the remaining 2/3 or so of our Silence course getting Darshan with Gurudev in the Vishalakshi Mantap (VM) building (
I feel so lucky to have met some of our TTC classmates at the Bangalore Ashram during the stay there.  I hope we can all meet in Bangalore for Navratri or Shivatri. 
Feeling grateful and blessed beyond words…
Love & Jai Guru Dev,
Ritesh Sheth

Monday, January 20, 2014

To Celebrate MLK Day

Race as Irrelevant

I just made a major decision today and my neurosis / botheration came to mind and I'm not sure why, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that race is completely irrelevant in modern day society. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we in modern day society on a world-wide basis, pretty much exist in terms of education and socio-economic status, not in racial states. Even as religion edges out of mainstream society and spirituality and god replace religion as the ultimate in a global unifying force, we realize that god and the breath bring light into our bodies, minds, and souls. As we come to self-realization, we realize that this moment, and each moment that we exist within, is as life should life is. We are being regardless of religion, race, education, or any other factor that serves to differentiate us. Even beyond race, many other factors become irrelevant, as we get further and further away from that which creates unhappiness, exclusivity. As we move towards the ultimate unifying light, we realize that this light is within each and everyone of us, and can shine brighter than anything that may appear on our surface, or anything that may even come out of our mouths. So regardless of race, religion, sex / gender, socio-economic status, physical appearance, or even education, what will unify our species is the light w/in us, our soul / athma. When we realize that our existence is from the inside, not out, we can shine our light among all of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings.

As we come into Martin Luther King Jr's Anniversary Day, I want to share his "I have a Dream" thought in speech.

Notes from his speech:
unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

"insufficient funds."
riches of freedom and the security of justice
promises of democracy
solid rock of brotherhood
justice a reality for all of God's children
overlook the urgency of the moment.
invigorating autumn of freedom and equality
citizenship rights
high plane of dignity and discipline
soul force.
destiny is tied up with our destiny
justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations

creative suffering

Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal

the table of brotherhood

an oasis of freedom and justice

join hands as sisters and brothers.

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

stone of hope.

a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together

all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

Let freedom ring

thank God Almighty, we are free

An interpretation of his speech to now:
Is enjoying this time to reflect on what Martin Luther King, Jr. provided for humanity. Even beyond race, especially as race becomes more irrelevant in our global lives, his words of wisdom will have benefits for generations to come. Let this wonderful day be a reminder of not only what Martin Luther King, Jr succeeded in, but also what Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and countless unnamed humans provided humanity with. MLK’s speech reminds me of the wonderful things that we have today:
• The unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
• Society’s funding to overcome insufficient funds in our hearts through meditation, yoga, spirituality and the breath
• The riches of freedom and the security of justice
• Promises of democracy
• A solid rock of brotherhood among mankind
• Justice as a reality for all of God's children
• This present moment
• The invigorating autumn of freedom and equality
• Citizenship rights to multiple countries
• The high plane of dignity and discipline among our species
• Our soul’s force in our many cyclical lives of birth and death
• To allow the American destiny to be tied up with the world’s destiny
• Justice as it rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream
In life, each and every day, I think that Martin Luther King Jr’s life is a reminder that some of us have come here on earth out of great trials and tribulations from past lives of creative suffering and that we will continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. As Eckhart Tolle suggests, may we be able to surrender our ego, eliminate suffering, and live with acceptance, energy, &/ enthusiasm in each and every moment.
We hold truths to be self-evident… that all men are created equal:
• as we eat and live from the table of brotherhood in an oasis of freedom and justice
• as we join hands as sisters and brothers
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together as we sit together under the Bodhi tree on a stone of hope…as did Buddha 2,500 years ago.
Our lives w/in the human community are a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together.
All of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My one earth, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Earth where my fathers died, land of pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
Let freedom ring
I thank God and the Force beyond and within us almighty, we can be free, peaceful, and joyous.
I give thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr for his continued ability to lead us along the divine path with a strong mind and a tender heart among humanity.
Peace, Namaste, and Amen!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Commentary on Ways to Welcome 2014 by H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

What are some ways to be happy?  What is happiness?  In a course I took a few years ago, I realized the entire weekend was dedicated to one thing…making us realize that happiness is a choice.  We have the choice to be happy now!  We spend so much time dwelling on the past / worrying about the future that we forget about this amazing present moment.  Each time we catch ourselves drifting into never-never land glorifying the past / worrying / dreaming about the future, snap your fingers three times and say “now now now” in your head! 

Dream the Impossible.  There’s an amazing Puja Bhanu Didi sang in her CD that Swamiji Jayanth shared with me at the Bangalore Ashram.  The Puja, he said, takes you beyond imagination.  After listening to the Puja on my drive back from Boone, NC after Christmas 2013, I realized some profound questions coming up…thoughts from layers in the universe to the spherical present moment.  We have so much to wonder about.  I’ve heard Rajshree Didi say Gurudev’s offered us only a drop in the ocean of consciousness.  We are not ready yet for the rest of the ocean, but Gurudev’s hopefully going to share more expanders like Shakti Kriya and Sudarshan Chakra Kriya.

Cultivate the Habit of Listening.   How often does our small mind chatter and think of thoughts that refer to I, me, or my?  Why does the small mind or ego constantly or often enough want to chime in with thoughts or opinions, &/ incomprehensible or mindless chatter from past impressions?  How do we quieten the mind?  Through knowledge, disciplined sadhana, seva, satsang, and a gentle smile, the mind may be able to let go of the chattering mind and reach that space of peace and tranquility.  From this space, we can listen.  We can listen like that part of the movie, Peaceful Warrior.  Just being present to the moment can really open up something for us.  Just wondering and allowing the mind to stop focusing on me, my, or I can open up so much space for the mind to calm down and be quiet.

Make Meditation a part of Life.  Just taking 20 minutes out a day twice a day can significantly enhance your happiness and centeredness.  Sometimes I feel like it’s simply a clearing for the day’s activities in the mind.  Sometimes meditation can take you to a whole different world.  Why not experience a vacation twice a day?  Why not recharge the mind similar to how we recharge our cell phones?    

Follow Truth.  Why not dive deep into knowledge and learn great life lessons.  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to become a witness to the mind.  Our mind is often chattering and not quiet.  If we can shift from experiencing all of these thoughts to being a witness of these thoughts, this can be a wonderful way to relax and become happier and more peaceful.

Share your Joy.  Gurudev recently tweeted that we should share our problems with the divine and our joy with others.  I decided earlier this year to choose happiness and to also stop complaining.  The complaining mind can be addictive.  When we can shift to unloading our complaints and problems on the divine and sharing our joy with others, we can create a happier and more loving environment. 

Think Fresh.  I recently heard a statistic that we have the same thoughts over 90% of the time day after day.  How do we break this cycle of negative thoughts that don’t serve us?  One traditional method is Japa.  Another is meditation.  In deep silence the mind can settle down and let go of the stresses / fear / anxiety that it’s holding onto. 

Be Sincere.  Being sincere really means being simple, honest, and humble…being authentic and natural.  When we are sincere we connect with others and are more vulnerable and also more sensitive to others.  Sharing ourselves by spreading both joy and the journey that we’ve been on allows others to connect with us in a personal way.  This sincerity helps create an environment of sharing and caring.

Learn to Forgive.  Forgiving others helps not only the ones we’re forgiving, but also ourselves.  When we begin to see others with compassion and love, we move from a space of responding out of immediate ego, to a place of knowledge with compassion and empathy.  Forgiveness is the first of the five principles in the Ashtavakra Gita.

Stop Worrying.  Often times, we’re worrying about the future.  What will the future hold?  Will I do well on exams?  Will my kids turnout ok?  The way to alleviate worry is to become present to the moment at hand.  When we are fully present to this moment, we realize greater happiness by not dwelling on the past / worrying about the future.  If we can surrender the past to destiny, and the future to free will, and give our 100% to this present moment, we can achieve so much right now!

Have a Sense of Humor.  You know, in Jai Guru Dev, “Dev” means “playful, yet dignified” among other possible definitions.  Our dear Gurudev is a perfect example of this and he was recently caught on video enjoying a good laugh with one of India’s great comedians.  So fun to see!  Once when I was in Canada with Gurudev, he even mentioned how to really authentically laugh.  He said we laugh with the “hehehe” from our gut / stomach…where you can really feel it…almost uncontrollable.  Gurudev said that an insincere laugh is one that’s controlled like the “mwuhahahahahaha.”  Seeing life as a game and realizing we are only here to look around for a while can help us lighten up a bit!

Take Responsibility.  Responsibility brings power.  When I say power, what I mean is Empower.  When you take on a responsibility you become empowered to do it…similar to the law of intention.  Recently a man asked Gurudev why he could not simply live like he was when he was a baby / young boy with everything taken care of for him.  Gurudev responded that there’s a time in your life when you are taken care of and a time in your life when you take care of others.  As adults, we have an opportunity to serve others and take on greater responsibilities.    

Be a Student Always.  I recently spent two months at the Bangalore ashram in back-to-back courses and I had one teacher who taught my last six weeks of the courses while I was there.  I remember when I first saw him over the first few days, I thought will this young guy who seems so laid back, humble, and playful, be assisting the teacher / when will the teacher arrive?  Little did I know he was the teacher, Kashi Bhaya, humbly referred to in the Ashram.  Kashi Bhaya not once took on the heir of an arrogant teacher / made decisions in a vacuum.  He often said that he would check-in with Gurudev and see what Gurudev will say.  Kashi Bhaya is an inspiration as an ongoing student as he not once asserted himself in front of us.  Kashi Bhaya felt like both our classmate and teacher...he seemed like the perfect example of a student!  This quest to have inquiry into the unknown and go deeper in our Sadhana allows us to open up to the vastness of what’s unknown.  There’s so much to study and I’ve even heard the Vedas take 120 years to study completely.

Spread Happiness.  This is beautiful.  We have a Happiness Program now that focuses on taking people from stressed out, miserable, anxious, and or depressed, to simply happy and peaceful.  The more people we can share this happiness with, the more people benefit from this practice.  I have a business card with a quote from Mother Teresa that says, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”  When we share our happiness with others, not only do they feel better, we feel better as well.

In Loving Kindness,

Jai Guru Dev,

Ritesh Mukul Sheth