Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram in India, is a most sacred place—it is the seat of the Guru’s shakti and love. It is an oasis of beauty and harmony. I was fortunate to travel to Gurudev Siddha Peeth as a staff member supporting Gurumayi’s Teaching Visit in 2005 – 2006. I treasured everything about Gurudev Siddha Peeth—the silence of the courtyard, the expanse of Dakshin Kashi, the evening arati in the Temple, the star-sparkling night sky.
However, during the last weeks of my five month stay—among the magnificence, stillness, and power of the Ashram, in that ocean of love—I felt as if an invisible wall had sprung up inside, disconnecting me from my own heart. I fell out of step with the rhythm and flow of the Ashram. In fact, I seemed to always be at the wrong place at the wrong time, saying the wrong thing. The harder I tried to re-establish connection with my heart, the more inaccessible it seemed to become.
As the Teaching Visit was coming to a close, staff members were beginning to depart on various days. The afternoon of my own departure, I was invited for Gurumayi’s darshan in the courtyard. Gurumayi asked about my stay in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and I shared my appreciation. She asked questions that drew out my gratitude even more. I felt Gurumayi was calling on my higher Self—this is what the Guru always sees in me—and it gave me confidence that I had the strength to face my current distress.
Then Gurumayi gave me guidance: she said that I might find it helpful to practice noticing details, such as those in architecture and in the patterns of fabric. And she wished me a safe journey.
I was puzzled by this instruction but so happy to receive it. I knew the value of the Guru’s words and recognized how enormously blessed I was to receive Gurumayi’s direct guidance. I knew if I followed this guidance, it would bear fruit.
I put the exercise into practice immediately. As I walked around the Ashram, saying good-bye to all the sacred places, I paid attention to the details—the curve of the trunk in Lord Ganesha’s murti, the pattern of the flagstone path, the painted design atop the pillars of the Mandap.
Upon my return to Shree Muktananda Ashram, I made an effort to stop periodically during each day and take note of the details and patterns around me. I paid attention to the texture of fabric covering a chair cushion, to the grain of the wood of my desk, and to the curving shape of my computer keyboard. And I paid attention to what was happening within myself as I did so.
As the weeks passed, I noticed that the practice of noticing details was becoming more natural. My mind, which had been stuck in a downward spiral of self-absorption, mulling over the feeling of separation from my heart’s beautiful energy, became calm. I also noticed that something else was starting to happen. My mind became keen at, and receptive to, observing the world around me. In the flitting of a robin from one tree branch to another, I enjoyed nature’s lightheartedness. In the filigree of an ironwork railing, I appreciated the qualities of gentleness and strength. I admired the perfection in the smooth, red roundness of an apple.
I realized that there is a connection between what’s within me and what's in the world around me. This allowed me to become more aware and more present, and to experience the graceful unity that constantly pervades both inside and outside. This new realization supported my meditation and my meditation supported this new discovery. I began to feel the qualities I noticed in nature and architecture—like lightheartedness, strength, and perfection—present within me. By following Gurumayi’s guidance to practice noticing details in architecture and fabric, I was able to develop the eye of a connoisseur. The result was so great that my vision expanded and I was reconnected to my heart’s beautiful energy.
Gurumayi had given me a profound gift that touched and transformed me at the deepest level of my being. Having reflected on this transformation, I understand that Gurumayi was giving me the golden opportunity to practice an aphorism from the Shiva Sutra which Gurumayi teaches—yatha tatra tatha'nyatra, “As here, so elsewhere.”