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Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga 2023 Weeklong Retreat

Permanent spiritual transformation in the Siddha path of Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga.

Program Leader - The Art of Inner Transformation

Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga
2023 Weeklong Retreat
by Shanti Harkness

Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.

The theme of this year’s retreat was “How to Live in a State of Ecstasy Amidst the Growing Restlessness and Chaos in the World.” Kedarji began the retreat by talking about human dignity and respect.  He shared that we are worthy of respect because God dwells within us, as us; and if we don’t know who we are, then we’ll become who or whatever others want us to be.  He went on to remind us that egoism is the destruction of human dignity, leading to the objectification of ourselves and others.

We were reminded of the steps to support the practice of human dignity, including all of our spiritual practices, performing our 3-step Dharana, remembering the 3 Primary Pillars of Understanding, loving ourselves as the Self, extending compassion toward ourselves and to others, and practicing Viveka (the ability to know the difference between what causes us to remember God and that which causes us to forget God), and Vairagya, dispassion, which is the experience of being elated at being non-attached.

Dharma and the Protection of Righteousness

Kedarji reminded us of some of the great beings in history who have stood up for Dharma, the act of loving the Truth more than mundane life itself.  He quoted from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and reminded us about Shri Krishna and Shri Rama in the sacred texts of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.  These were all great beings who stood up in the face of great adversity and even war, to uphold the Truth and Righteousness.  Kedarji said that this is what we, as yogis, are being called on to do today.

There is so much greed and corruption in the world today, with the powerful elite making more and more effort to control and manipulate the masses.  It’s our duty as yogis to be informed of what is taking place, and then to stand up and protect Dharma.  Kedarji tells us that, if we make decisions out of fear, we are blocking the Guru’s Grace.  I know without a doubt that if it weren’t for my Guru’s Grace, that I wouldn’t even know about the majority of the things that are taking place on the global stage today.  And the things I did know about, I would be consumed by fear and what-ifs, were it not for Kedarji.

The Power of One

One attendee admitted that she doesn’t always love the Truth more than mundane life because she likes her comfort, and falsely believes that others have her best interest at heart.  She admitted to standing up for justice and righteousness in personal matters, but struggled in larger matters because she thinks she’s “just one person.”  In contemplating Sadguru Kedarji’s words, she then posed the question to herself: “What would my existence be like if I made every decision with fearlessness?

Indeed, in standing up for Dharma, one person can make all the difference – Kedarji urged us to look at Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dr. King, Shri Krishna, Shri Rama, Paramahamsa Muktananda and Bhagawan Nityananda.  Another woman shared that when she began to feel fear, she remembered that this is only between her and God, that there are no others— something Kedarji reminds us of often.  She shared that if she takes a stand to uphold Dharma, in whatever ways she can, that she is taking another step closer to God.

How to Revel in the Play of the Shakti

Kedarji reminds us that our duty in Sadhana is to revel in the Play of the Shakti – beginning with the question: Do you wake up with your heart singing and dancing with indescribable joy, and are you able to sustain that joy throughout your day?  And if not, why not?  He tells us that our existence in this world is like a prolonged dream, and that all of our feelings of pleasure, pain, grief, joy, etc., are due to believing there is an outer world (due to the labels we use), when in fact, everything takes place in Consciousness, inside our own being.

This reminded me of how I create my own suffering by the labels I use and the attachments I create, believing there are others outside myself.  For example, when I think of my sister or some close friends who have recently dropped their bodies (died)—when I see them as separate from myself rather than all as one with God, then I feel sadness and loss.  But when I remove the labels and distinctions (names, relationships), and see them all as God, as my very own Self, then I experience inner peace and joy rather than loss or sadness.

In hearing others’ contemplations of the lessons, one woman shared how she struggles with objectification from her husband and children, and the difficulty she faces in rising above praise and blame, but then shared that she recognized she put herself in those situations by objectifying others and not seeing them as God.  Another shared that she had many spiritual teachers in the past, but no real leadership, and how she sees the benefit in having that expert leadership of a Sadguru to help her navigate through her karmas and false tendencies.

The Essence of Sadhana

Kedarji tells us that the essence of Sadhana is the state of indescribable joy, Grace and surrender, from moment to moment, in as many moments as possible throughout our day.  By following the Guru’s instruction for our daily spiritual practice, we can experience the state of the Guru, the state of Liberation, right now, in the moment—with the goal of increasing the number of moments we experience that in each day.  It’s not some far-off, unattainable goal after decades of arduous effort; it can be experienced right now, by anyone, by simply following the methods that have been proven over millennia to take us there.

The Miracle Intensive

The Miracle Intensive in honor of Shri Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri began with reminders of how to seek the bliss of the Self in everything, everyone, and in every circumstance.  We were reminded not to engage in limiting desires and cravings, to perform all activities with full witnessing awareness of the Play of the Shakti as this world, and to understand that we—and this world, are full of the Light of Divine Consciousness that is God.  We must understand that in challenging times, we are being spoken to by God. We must ask God and our Guru, “What am I being called to do?  What must be done?

We are instructed to welcome our kriyas, movements of the Shakti, with great joy, and to witness the movements of our useless tendencies passively, so that we can surrender them to the fire of our Guru’s Love.  It is important for us to inculcate gratitude throughout each day so that we can be inspired from within as to what steps to take next.  We can consistently make God manifest fully in our lives in every moment by way of our vigilance in performing our daily spiritual practices as instructed.

Attendees shared their gratitude for the reminders inherent in these lessons, expressing the ease in which we can all get wrapped up and entangled in ego-expressions of fear, attachment, and objectification. Each expressed gratitude for the reminder of seeking Grace and the indescribable Joy of the Self in each moment, and that even if it wasn’t reached for in the previous moment, it can be reached for in the next… there is always another moment coming to experience our True Nature of Bliss, Love and Joy.

Kedarji’s Shaktipat Blessing

In this Miracle Weekend Intensive, attendees shared experiences of receiving Kedarji’s Blessing of Grace through the receipt of Shaktipat.  One attendee shared how when she was blessed by Kedarji with the peacock feathers, she felt so much love flowing from Kedarji to her, and from her to Kedarji.  She was able to watch any thoughts that arose passively and then let them go, and trusted in the moment that she was getting exactly what she needed spiritually.  Another shared a similar experience with being able to watch her thoughts passively until they dissolved, without getting triggered by them.  And another shared that upon receiving Shaktipat, she felt this warm, all-embracing love and energy flowing from Kedarji, completely filling her being.

Another experienced her heart opening with so much love and gratitude for her Guru just pouring out of her.  She shared that she was in such a state of joy and peace that she almost didn’t want to try to put it into words to journal her experience.  Another attendee shared a similar experience, stating that he slipped deeper into meditation and saw a shimmering white light as he basked in the joy of performing Hamsa Mantra.

One woman shared that her thoughts dissolved as Kedarji was bestowing Shaktipat on her, and that she experienced seeing blue bindis during her inhalations during meditation.  She shared how light she felt, with a heart wide open and as if she was no longer confined to the boundaries of her skin or body.

As Shaktipat began for me, I inwardly asked Kedarji to help me be a better disciple, worthy of his Grace, to which I inwardly heard, “You are Supremely worthy.” As Kedarji pressed various points on my head during Shaktipat, I inwardly laid all of my troubles and challenges at his feet.  It felt like such a burden was lifted that I began to cry.  I realized that the choice to suffer is my own and that, if I surrender my attachments and misunderstandings, if I lay everything at my Guru’s feet, that I find relief… I find peace… I find strength.

This week-long retreat, and our Miracle Intensive, have been a wonderful time filled with so many much-needed reminders for our Sadhana, instruction for what to reach for in the moment, and the means for experiencing the indescribable Joy and Ecstasy of the Self, even amidst the growing restlessness and chaos in the world today.

Om Guru Om!

Shanti Harkness volunteers as the Secretary 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. She works in the marketing field.

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