Out of the Rabbit Hole
Before the amazing August 2023 retreat and intensive, I contemplated writing my upcoming blog about: What characterizes my rabbit holes (that which leads me away from God)? How do I get there? By ‘chance’,....View Now
Get Rest! By Embracing the Power of Grace – Part 2
by Kambra McConnel
Listen to audio version of this article.
Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.
As the Siddhas of our lineage tell us, to fully embrace the Power of Grace requires engaging “two wings of the bird.” There is the Grace that the Guru extends, and there is the Grace of my own self-effort.
One of the ways in which the Guru extends Grace is through tests that help me see where my effort is strong, and where my effort needs to intensify.
For example, recently, Sadguru Kedarji instructed me to write more about the topic of “Getting Rest.” And as soon as he did, the tests started…immediately!
That night, I felt wide-awake and energized, until my eyes fatigued and I was no longer mentally sharp. Then, I had a hard time falling asleep, which is not typical for me. Usually I fall asleep quickly. But this time, I was slow to fall asleep, and my body woke up 2 hours later.
So I chanted, performed japa, and sat for meditation. And I had to put forth more effort to avoid a poor mental state that would erode my emotional resilience with frustration and worry.
Eventually, I fell into a deep state of meditation for 30 minutes…and then my alarm jolted me out of it.
Throughout the day, I had to keep reaching for the first of the 4 Pillars of Joy in Daily Living that Sadguru Kedarji instructs – the Shiva-Shakti power that we also refer to as The Spiritual Power – in order to stay on track, and to not allow my mental state to decline due to fatigue, or my emotional resilience to erode due to a lack of patience.
And then, that afternoon, I was blessed by a test.
When I went to my doctor’s office to get my regular infusion of intravenous Vitamin C to support my immune system health, I felt this would be the perfect time to take a nap and catch up on a little sleep…to “Get Rest”…for a couple of hours. And I always take a sacred text with me to read while I sit there.
So in both ways, I intended to “Get Rest.” I had everything planned out.
I read for a little while, and when I felt my eyelids get heavy, I closed them, for a little nap.
But then, the room started to shake. Because another patient sitting next to me…someone who was also trying to “get rest”…had fallen asleep…and she started to snore. Very, very loudly.
So much so, that I eventually started to laugh. Believe me, she was all in! She was perfecting her effort at snoring!
Oh Shiva. What a wonderful Play.
So I reached for the Bliss of the Self; That Shiva-Shakti power that we also refer to as The Spiritual Power.
And I recalled Sadguru Kedarji’s utterance that to “Get Rest” is not only about getting mundane sleep. In the moment, that really helped me “Get Rest,” despite the noise.
Inwardly, I performed japa (mantra repetition). And eventually, I felt calmer, more at peace, and I experienced a heightened awareness of things that appeared to happen around me.
I had told myself that this visit to the IV clinic would certainly be better than the last time when I was there. And indeed, it was, because I had an improved mental state, and more emotional resilience than at my prior visit.
You see, a couple of months prior, when I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, a well-intentioned nurse blew a vein in my arm. And the intravenous Vitamin C entered my tissue. And my arm swelled, and it burned like nothing I have ever experienced before. That perceived pain brought me to tears. I felt depressed and helpless.
Yet thanks to my Guru’s Grace, I avoided going further, to reach for blame and anger. And while I did not rush to make another appointment right away, ultimately, I decided to continue receiving intravenous Vitamin C. I kept recalling a brief phone call that I had received from Sadguru Kedarji while I was still in my car, literally right before I walked into the clinic that day.
While I can’t remember what exactly his instruction was, I remember that on the surface, it appeared to be mundane.
And that led me to reach higher and to inwardly inquire, “What was that really all about? My Guru must be protecting me from something that is happening, or something that is about to happen.” So I remained vigilant…and as I just described, I shortly experienced an answer to my question!
And what Grace in my Guru’s protection…and my awareness of it, which sparked the Grace of my self effort to put my mind “at rest” enough to become more observant, and more vigilant about my spiritual practice, so that I could strengthen my Viveka, or Discernment of what takes me closer to God, and what takes me farther away.
And then I could stop a flood of useless thoughts and emotions, which otherwise would have been as misguided as that intravenous Vitamin C that seeped out of my veins and into my tissues.
More recently, Sadguru Kedarji has highlighted the importance of receiving intravenous Vitamin C as a method to prevent against Covid infection. And once again, my heart filled with gratitude.
Because if Sadguru Kedarji had not called me and subtly reminded me to heighten my Witnessing Awareness…to “Rest” my mind in that moment…and if I had sabotaged Grace a couple of months prior by allowing a poor mental state and a lack of emotional resilience to run amok…if I had gotten angry with the nurse and been stubborn about not going back again because of that experience…then I would have stopped benefiting from something that is good for my health.
And I feel the same gratitude for a tiny little bee that stung my wrist almost a year ago, while I was performing selfless service of yard work at a property that our School owns.
That little bee crawled right into my gardening glove and stung my wrist.
And I’ve always been OK with bee stings. They hurt for a little while, my body swells a little bit, and then it all goes away.
But this time was different. My wrist was fine for about 24 hours. And then, it started to swell. And then my whole arm swelled up. And a long red streak formed, almost up to my armpit.
I went to my primary care doctor. And, while her nurse practitioner understood that I did not want pharmaceutical interventions due to all of the allergies and hyper-sensitivities my body has, the most she could offer was an antibiotic and a steroid. This would have been the course of action that I automatically would have taken, if I had not crossed paths with Sadguru Kedarji, and if I had not learned how to “Get Rest” and quiet my mind enough to question everything and explore all options for handling health issues.
By my Guru’s Grace, I had an acupuncture appointment with my other doctor who also gives intravenous Vitamin C treatments. And that day, for the first time, he recommended an intravenous Vitamin C treatment for me.
This was my first experience with intravenous Vitamin C treatment, so I was not sure what to expect. I watched in awe as the swelling immediately began to decrease, right in front of my eyes, as I sat there for two hours. Within a day or so, my arm was completely back to normal. And I’d experienced no side effects from the infusion. I only felt more energetic, and so very grateful. What Grace!
So what I have really been saying here is how grateful I am to have the privilege of a daily spiritual practice that helps me remember to reach for That – the Shiva-Shakti power, from moment to moment.
Because, just like receiving regular infusions of Vitamin C helps me maintain the health of my body, consistently reaching for and holding the highest, most useful understandings and engaging in the spiritual practices that Sadguru Kedarji instructs are the infusions that help me keep the most useful inner company, and the most useful outer company, for an improved mental state, emotional resilience, and vibrant health.
Kambra McConnel is the Treasurer of The Bhakta School of Transformation. She sits on our Board of Directors and also volunteers as a certified staff teacher and program leader for Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga.