Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Swami Steve

Dear Friends,

Driving down from Flagstaff to Sedona, AZ, I passed through a colorful forest corridor surrounded by sheer  stone mountains. Truly a natural wonder. Sedona is considered one of the most spiritual towns in the US. It is built upon red rock that has an uplifting vibration itself. Many of the stores sell products and services designed to uplifts one's consciousness.

I arrived at the Ashram of Awakening, and Swami Steve and Solar greeted me cordially. I set up Swamiji's picture with a vase of flowers and then sat down to meditate with several others. Every weekday in the evening, Swami Steve invites people to the Ashram to meditate for at least an hour. The doors are open to everyone. After a beautiful satsang, chanting the Perennial Mantra, Hare Krishna, Swami Steve took me to a diner for dinner and told me about his ego dissolution and recreation of the personality. If there is no ego, then whose voice speaks? Swami Steve spoke with enthusiasm and animation, and I felt at ease in his friendly presence. As I did not have a place to stay, he called Cynthia to see if she could house me. She graciously provided me with a comfortable room and bed.

That night, I met Cynthia, a gentle and kind being who welcomed me into her home. It was full of crystals - her good friends. We went to a crystal shop and crystal bowl shop where we had the opportunity to enjoy the healing energy. Each crystal bowl, beautifully crafted with fine stone, had a tone that resonated with a particular chakra and had a particular healing quality. The sound was angelic and deeply healing.

Every day, I went to the Ashram of Awakening to meditate with Swami Steve. He took me in as a student. We spoke about the path to Enlightenment. One morning, as he was speaking to me, my left ear started to ring with an electric current. "Keep your attention on this sound," he said. "This is the key to deeper states of awakening." He continued, "Place your awareness on the navel in the center of the abdomen and feel the Presence. Notice that when you are in this space, you won't feel the wind." Swami Steve spent hours every day helping me to deepen my awareness. My meditation deepened, and my ability to sit in silence for long periods of time increased. I treasure the moments spent with Swami Steve.

One night, I had a satsang planned at the ChocolaTree, a restaurant dedicated to raising the consciousness of people. I asked the hostess where I would be sitting and she guided me to the Shivalingam, a large stone right near the main register and main pathway of the servers. I spread out my yoga mat and looked out at all the people who were eating their food and chatting. This was not what I had expected. Who would want to connect to the spiritual energy or listen to dharma talk while eating lovely food? Who tastes the depths of the soul while enjoying the taste of chocolate? I accepted these circumstances in the midst of the bustling room of the restauant. As I began to play the harmonium, a young man walked up and placed a dollar in front of me along with a note:

"Your harmonium blossoms exquisite joy into being, as you let your heart sing into the devotion of the one. The Universe thunders in your divine beauty. Do you see who you are? A creator god in a body of light, a temple of pure joy. A divine lover of the spaces between the spaces. You have become One."

Who was this mysterious young man who wandered the world? Who am I? The entire room was captured for a moment. "Let us chant 3 OM's together" I said, and everyone chanted in unison. After this magical moment, everyone went back to their eating and chatting, and I sang my heart out, surrendering to the Energy of the sound that vibrates through eternity.

The last day in Sedona, I arrived at the Ashram to say goodbye. Manna, Solar and Swami Steve were there. They wanted me to play and sing music with the harmonium. So I played in honor of Swamiji. The sweet music filled the room. We took pictures together, particularly inspired by Solar who reminded me of Santa Claus. Solar is deeply aware the Self and is a mostly silent guide for my own path. He gave me a blessing and then I set out on my way. Such deep gratitude and love I feel for all the beings at the Ashram.

Always at Thy Feet,