My first exposure to yoga was in high school. My Mom signed us up for an Iyengar class in Bethesda, Maryland at the Unity Woods yoga center, an excellent choice; the center is still around today and doing very well. I remember feeling so good after class; walking felt so different with my hamstrings loosened up. Unfortunately, we stopped going when my Mom hurt her shoulder. The class involved a certain amount of inversions. She has had shoulder problems for as long as I can remember. Anyway, I didn't have a driver's license at the time and while I enjoyed it, it did not resonate with me so deeply that I had to make to class without my Mom being into it, particularly at that age.
When I was a junior in high school, my Mom attended a retreat at the Monroe Institute intended to teach participants about out-of-body experiences. My first experience of feeling compelled to do something based on intuition came when I felt that I needed to attend the same program, the Gateway Experience (now the Gateway Voyage). There are big differences between now and then in the content and intent of the program. Monroe was still alive when I went. The program was geared towards the out-of-body experience and had some power to it. Over the years, it has gotten watered down to minimize the number and frequency of people losing their mind after having their belief system opened up. The affect of this program was profound for me, especially at the age of eighteen. I had paranormal experiences that gave me insight into my past, present, and future and it gave me some useful tools for psychic intent and protection.
Later when I was in college, my Mom picked another class for us to go to. It was a dream practice class held in the D.C. area by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. It was fascinating material and I soon discovered that his home base was in Charlottesville, Virginia where I was going to school. So, I started going to Ligmincha and learning about Yungdrung Bon, the Eternal Dharma. I became part of the local sanga and attended weekly group meditations. I went to a bunch of retreats including Ngondro 1 and 2. I got so into it that I decided to study literary and spoken Tibetan as offered by the Department of Religious Studies at UVA. I took the first two courses, got into a third and my schedule overloaded and I had to back off.
I found the practices and philosophy to be very powerful. In fact, I was experiencing substantial paranormal activity at the time, which I attribute to doing the practices. However, back then Tenzin was not very available and I didn't feel supported in my journey into the unknown with these practices. At a certain point, I really went off the map. So, I backed off and got some counseling, which ironically was with a Sikh. He didn't tell me anything about Sikhism or Kundalini Yoga at the time but that was his background.
It found me later in Florida at the Baba Siri Chand Ashram. When I walked through the gates at the school, I thought to myself
I have arrived ... where has this place been my whole life... this is where I am suppose to be. If take a few steps back, I was really into dance and was part of a formation at the Paradise Ballroom in Kissimmee. Our formation was a medley of foxtrot, tango, and waltz. We started out each class with some stretching which I really liked and it reminded me of yoga and Iyengar classes. I really was not enjoying the class otherwise and decided to start looking for yoga and heard rumors about classes in Altamonte while shopping and eating at the Chamberlains in Longwood.
I started taking Wednesday evening classes and heard about the morning Sadhana practice at 4am and quickly transitioned to it. That led me to do the teacher training in 2001. After teacher's training, I continued with the 4am practice until I hit the crossroads on whether I was going to move to Tampa, working for Timothy and Michelle with their dance studio, or dig in deeper with the yoga school. My sadhana experiences continued to get more and more intense until I peaked with what very closely meets the description of a seventh chakra activation. I wonder still to this day if it wasn't a near death experience. After that, I knew that I was suppose to be at the ashram and that I wasn't moving to Tampa.
Any serious study of Kundalini Yoga in the West puts you on a crash course for Solstices and White Tantric. That is what I got into next. All other practices and meditation approaches seem like a cakewalk compared to Tantric (with the exception of alien experiences, which are like tantric on steroids). I have found it to be incredibly transformational. I quickly realized that it provided me with a strong sense of direction for at least three months after each event. After my second experience with Tantric, I felt compelled to go to massage school.
February of 2006, I went with Gurmukh and Golden Bridge to India. For years I said that I did not want to go to India because it is such an assault on the immune system. I work hard to maintain quality health and it just seemed like the risks verses the benefits did not add up. When the Gurmukh presented the idea of her trip while I was at one of her workshops at Omega Institute, the idea sat much better. She does a first class job of everything she does and I felt safe that she would point out the best places to eat. My Mom and I decided to go with her three months later.
Our journey took us to three places, Amritsar, Rishikesh, and New Delhi. Going to Amritsar is kind of a right of passage for anyone that studies Kundalini Yoga as it is the home of the Golden Temple. We stayed in Amritsar for a couple of days before going on to Rishikesh which was our primary destination. We stayed at Swamiji's Parmarth Niketan Ashram for the International Yoga Festival held there each year. I developed great new/old friendships, fell in love with the beauty of the Himalayas, and got introduced to some powerful new energetic and geometric concepts. I came across the Flower of Life practices and starting doing them. The overall effect of the trip was to open up my sixth chakra.
In the fall of 2008 after summer solstice, all of my income streams in the Central Florida area dried up, for months. I decided to leave the ashram and Florida. Early the next year, I started working as staff at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck New York.