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Out of the Rabbit Hole
by Sarah Porter
Audio Version of This Blog Post
I offer this blog as Selfless Service to the Glory of the Lord and my Spiritual leader, Kedarji. The great sages of our Siddha Nation urge humankind to recognize and honor the Divine Self that dwells within each of us. These great sages also tell us that if we want permanent spiritual transformation, it is our duty as yogis to retrace our steps back to God.
However, it is the ego, which is a mental construct that causes us to stumble on our journey back to God and thus prevents us from knowing the Self. In order to release our ego attachments, we must become aware of the many ways the ego strives to survive and how easy it is to be duped by the ego and go into a rabbit hole. This requires an ongoing examination of thoughts, feelings and actions in the light of whether they are leading us toward God or away from God.
Kedarji explained this self-study requires honesty and integrity with oneself at all times. We must examine what qualities are destructive that we need to get rid of. This involves the entire examination of our thoughts, feelings and actions, so we can retrace our steps back to God. Most importantly to disengage from the ego we need the Spiritual leadership of one who has become permanently enlightened and who can transmit Shaktipat.
After receiving Shaktipat everything was my spiritual journey; after which my leading question was: does this take me away from God or towards God. To find out if I am choosing the correct path my beloved Spiritual Leader, Kedarji provides numerous tests of my journey’s progress.
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’, I found this psychologically oriented book called “The 5 Personality Patterns” by Steven Kessler. He explains the 5 personality patterns arise because of trauma at different stages in early life and the child’s strategy to survive. That strategy becomes a default reaction to any subsequent threat or perceived threat to ego survival. It becomes one’s mental conditioning – one’s state of mind. I had numerous “Aha” moments reading about the pattern that characterized many of my rabbit holes: enduring or suffering through something characterized by difficulty knowing and expressing feelings and a tendency to be arrogant and resistant, which leads to being on an emotional roller coaster.
Being in a rabbit hole is being stuck in a contracted state of being that takes one away from the Divine. It has to do with one’s sense of identifying with the ego instead of with one’s Divine Self. We are either One with the Divine or one with ego. When I am one with Ego – if a threat or harm confronts me – and it can be as innocuous as going to a new place or meeting a stranger – in that situation I tend to freeze. It is subtle, a sense, a whisper. No one would know. They would see me as calm, smiling perhaps. But inside I am reacting. I am watchful, alert. If asked, I would not know what I want. In this state I cannot make a decision based on what I want. I will sense other’s opinions about what is a good choice and use that. I endure. That is my rabbit hole.
In that state of disconnection with my highest Self, I think I am helpless, just an individual; I have a dualistic perspective – this is very bad indeed and it is doership, I don’t know how to make something happen, but think I should be the one to do it instead of the Divine.
But then, during the August 2023 retreat, while I was chanting, I was inspired to write a blog about chanting. I planned to talk about my progress in chanting from feeling embarrassed and inadequate to annoyed with others who were off-key to finally surrendering to the totality of the chant and submerging myself in the total experience.
After retreats and intensives various chants would well up within me and take on a life of their own in my head. I wanted to write a blog about the mysteries and joys of chanting. I found research evidence about the physiological changes that enhance the body’s functioning that resulted from chanting. A review on the benefits of Chanting found a growing body of literature supporting the use of OM chanting as a tool for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, and improving overall mental health.
Oxytocin, which is the so-called love hormone is also released. Swami Muktananda had this to say about chanting: “Chanting is a significant and mysterious practice. It is the highest nectar, a tonic that fully nourishes our inner being. If we want to experience love, the greatest means is chanting God’s name. Chanting opens the heart and makes love flow within us. It releases such intoxicating inner bliss that simply through the nectar it generates, we can enter the abode of the Self. Gauranga, Mirabai, Namdev and many other great saints attained perfection by chanting the Name.” I remember Swami Muktananda saying the vibration of the chant enters your cells. Truly, after chanting my whole body would vibrate. What a lovely way to get off the emotional roller coaster.
While I was deliberating whether to blog about chanting or rabbit holes, there came more tests from Kedarji. They came fast and furious. First, I learned that while I was here in Ohio at the retreat, my home on Maui, was in the direct path of one of the fires. Every material object except my car would be burned to the ground. Face it, I thought: This is a test about attachment. To what was I attached? I went through a mental picture list of objects checking for attachments. I came to Kedarji’s very large picture. Oh no! There it was – the attachment. There was no way to save it.
Remorse welled up within me and just as quickly, it quelled as I was given the inner message that it was only a picture and I could get another. I mentally pulled back and saw myself with nothing, no home and no possessions. I knew then without a doubt that what I actually needed would become available to me. I had nothing to fear. I did not contract into an enduring pattern. I knew I would receive what I needed.
Then several days later I was still waiting for news about my home. I woke up to an early alarm for my Selfless Service (Seva) duty. I bounced up to sit on the side of my hotel bed and promptly slide off forcefully banging the top of my foot against the night stand. I knew my foot was damaged but I could walk on it, although painfully. I kept going to get to the Nileshwar Retreat Center to do my Selfless Service. It was a most important service for me. By staying focused on my Selfless Service, I did not contract. Later I learned that, by the Grace of God, my home was spared and my family was safe.
After I returned home, I was still having difficulty processing everything that I had felt over the past several months. Stories of the fire tragedy poured in. I wanted to help others, but I got Covid-19 the day after I got home. My pattern of responding to threat/harm is to freeze and endure. I pull in my energy. I hunker down. I am still and I am watchful. I quell my emotions. I have thoughts and am only dimly aware of my feelings. I say I am okay. I think I am safer this way. I am stuck. I can stay stuck for a long time, for years. I’ve done it before. I thought I was being strong, brave, even superior for ‘not losing it’.
I bounced back and forth between the view of tragedy and a view from the ‘upper story’ of God’s perfection. Kedarji instructed: Discern the eternal from the ephemeral. I began to see so many situations as God’s Grace, from the many amazing heart-warming stories of people helping others after the fire, to my own healthy recovery from Covid-19 and healing of my fractured toe. I started unfreezing by finally crying, which felt like I was ‘losing it’, while chanting, driving, watching Netflix, or reading the news.
Kedarji provides instruction on how to get out of any type of rabbit hole and it works. I performed his 3-step practice of taking three deep breaths, visualizing Kedarji and repeating my mantra. This breathing practice shifted my nervous system to a quieter mode. My heart broke and I started crying. As I visualized Kedarji, I remembered his unconditional love for me and his compassion. Then love started flowing. Next, I paid attention to repeatedly performing mantra repetition. This made my mind quiet and improved my mental state. My gratitude welled up and filled my heart with so much love. I chanted.
I continue to see God’s Grace in so many ways. Kedarji instructs: “Welcome your challenges with great joy. Witness the movement of their tendencies passively so that you can surrender them to the fire of Self-knowledge. You shouldn’t fear them. Just stop replicating them.”
Without the privilege of Kedarji’s spiritual leadership I would have been so lost during this year of crisis. What Grace!
Sarah Porter, PhD MS MPH RN CHTP/I is a certified healing touch instructor, teaching in Hawaii and Japan. She has over 15 years of Healing Touch practice and 30 years of practice as a psychiatric mental health nurse and clinical specialist with a holistic perspective. She is the co-author of the book, “Women’s Health and Human Wholeness”, emphasizing the necessity of bringing wholeness back into the health care system. She also serves on the Board of Directors for our school