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
Know the Truth of Who You Are
by Kambra McConnel
Audio Version of This Blog Post
Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay
“If you don’t know who you are, then you will become whoever or whatever others want you to be.” – Kedarji
Recently, while spending time with coaches and friends who are avid runners, I observed that engaging in the methods of our Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga approach throughout Sadhana—the Journey to Joy—is similar to the experience of running on a cross country team.
Based on my own direct experiences with cross country running, you listen to your coach and emulate your coach’s excellence. You take one step at a time and practice in workouts that test your strengths and weaknesses. Your coach knows your capacity as an athlete and instructs you accordingly. You remain vigilant and disciplined in thoughts and behaviors that support your effort.
And then one day, you suddenly realize that due to your coach’s expert leadership and your cumulative practices, you can run faster, farther, uphill and downhill with greater efficiency and ease. You learn to believe it when your coach says, “You can do it!” And you can…until eventually, the physical body ages and wears down.
However, in our approach, thanks to the Leadership, Grace and Blessings of Kedarji, when I put forth vigilant, disciplined effort in my daily spiritual practice over a long period of time, I do not eventually slow down or burn out due to injury or aging of the physical body.
Instead, thanks to my Guru’s Grace that supports my self-effort, I spiritually strengthen more than I could have ever thought possible before crossing paths with Kedarji.
One essential instruction that Kedarji imparts for daily spiritual practice is to contemplate three Primary Pillars of Understanding, the first of which is: “I am God, I am the Self, and all others are the same Self also.”
By my Guru’s Grace, and by the Grace of my own self effort to contemplate this utterance daily, year after year, I cumulatively experience deeper levels of awareness and awe that help me Surrender the limitations of the ego idea – the understandings that I reach for and hold, and the actions and habits that I engage in, connected to the thoughts that I am responsible for.
For example, I am currently making an effort to let go of a long-standing habit of trying to become whatever I think people need, or whomever people want me to be.
Recently, while reuniting with running friends and coaches, by my Guru’s Grace, I experienced a heightened Witnessing Awareness of how easily I can slip into the habit of playing various roles based on my memories and what other people remember about me: “athlete,” “team captain,” “competitor,” “friend,” “comedian,” “joker,” “cheerleader,” “fan,” “daughter of a legendary coach,” and so on.
I observed that when I am in role-playing mode, my ego idea easily blazes and my Witnessing Awareness contracts so that I can neatly “fit” into one of those “boxes.”
But when I steadily contemplate and imbibe the highest understanding that “I am God, I am the Self, and all others are the same Self also,” my whole experience transforms because when I interact, I do not contract.
Instead, I only feel inspired to share Love and express Gratitude. The energy of my mind is silenced, and I feel awe with every hug and smile that I offer.
I no longer feel pressure to “perform” in any of my usual roles—no pressure to engage in conversation just because I think I should, and no pressure to act like anyone other than the Self who wants to share an experience of the highest with everyone.
I simply experience inner Peace and take refuge in the Truth that there are actually no differences or distinctions between people because we are all the same Self.
And I no longer yearn to live in the past—instead, I look forward to interacting with every One in the present, from moment to moment.
So now, I am taking a step further to observe that remembering the Truth of who I really am – my True Nature as the Self – transforms how I interact with thoughts fueled by the energy of my mind.
Whether I reach for and hold the highest understanding that “I am God, I am the Self, and all others are the same Self also” while engaging with people, places and things determines whether I contract into a useless habit of judgment…or not.
For example, recently, a friend and I spent a couple of hours listening to audio recordings of blogs posted on our Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga website.
At the end of the first blog (my offering in May 2023), right after listening to the culmination of my experience with a classical music program, a loud, shrill, familiar tune suddenly blared outside: it was an ice cream truck, playing “The Music Box Dancer.”
When the audio blog concluded, my friend shared how much she had enjoyed it, at which point I subtly stepped into the role of a joker. I laughed and said, “And the ice cream truck music finished it! What perfect timing. What Grace!”
Mundanely, the irony was too much for my ego idea to resist. Here, we had been totally engrossed in the experience of exquisite classical music, when suddenly, the “different” notions of “ice cream” and “marketing music” appeared to interrupt everything.
I laughed harder. My ego idea blazed, fueled by remembering that when the classical music program was being professionally recorded back in May, a woman in the audience forgot to turn off her cell phone’s GPS, which resulted in spontaneous utterances such as “Turn left on 14th Street” during the recording, until the situation was addressed and the phone was silenced.
Then, I slipped into judging my thinking. How could I have allowed my restless mind to get so distracted, so quickly? I observed that the more I judged my thinking, the more my Witnessing Awareness contracted, as my mind became even more distracted by my judgments instead of remaining focused on what was before me in the present moment.
Shortly thereafter, while making a dinner salad, I added peppers. However, it was only after I added them to the salad and took my first bites that I realized they appeared to be “different”— they were very hot peppers, instead of the sweet mini bell peppers that I had thought they were.
As a burning sensation engulfed my mouth, once again, I observed how the energy of my mind slipped into judgment. How had I allowed my restless mind to get distracted while shopping, and while making the salad? And then I further distracted myself by stepping into the role of the comedian, expressing how much I wanted that ice cream truck to drive by again so I could get some relief with a cool dessert!
So, I practiced the methods instructed in our approach for when something feels “too hot to handle” – inwardly, I laid the situation at my Guru’s feet (and later, I literally offered those peppers to my Guru!) I reached for the highest understanding that “I am God, I am the Self, and all others are the same Self also.” And I inwardly practiced japa (mantra repetition) while I ate the hot peppered salad.
And by my Guru’s Grace, taking these steps quickly helped me cool the burning sensation of the peppers, arrest the habit of judging thoughts, and silence my restless mind enough for me to recall another instruction imparted by Kedarji: “Recognize all thoughts as emanating from the Self.”
Because as Kedarji utters, “God alone exists…so, who is doing the playing?” Who is doing the running, coaching, reuniting, talking, listening, eating, interrupting, giving directions, burning, and so on?
No matter what the question may be, the answer is always the same: in all circumstances, God alone exists. In the Play of the Shakti as this World, God plays all of the roles, whether the forms appear to be people or objects or sights or sounds.
In “The Abode of Grace,” Kedarji shares Verse #39 of the Chidakasha Gita, in which Bhagawan Nityananda utters, “There is nothing like ‘this one’ has more and another has less. The power of thought, the ears, the nose, the hand, the eye, etc. are the same to all.”
In his commentary on this verse, Kedarji utters, “No one is higher and no one is lower. That Shiva-Shakti power exists equally in everyone, everywhere. Shiva’s Chiti or Shakti expresses itself through a body that is the same for all.”
What a Blessing of my Guru’s Grace it is to know who I truly am and to experience the sameness of the Supreme Self – my True Nature – so that I can stop role-playing, stop judging, and just be the Self. For this, I am incredibly grateful.
Om Guru Om!
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.