Tag Archives: jana thevar

Inner Engineering with Sadhguru: My Experience

by Jana Thevar

Photo Credits: Pictures of Sadhguru were taken from Isha Foundation’s official webpage.

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Where, When and Cost

  • Program: Inner Engineering with Sadhguru
  • Venue: 14th and 15th April, 2018
  • Venue: Mines International Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Ticket price: RM630 (‘Early Bird’ for lowest range) to over RM1000 (closer to Sadhguru’s dais on stage)

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As a business convention centre, the venue itself was nothing to scream about. It was large, clean, spacious, boring – functional enough for a city event, but unfortunate considering the spiritual nature of the program. I’d have liked something like this to be held amidst nature, under large old trees or in a more rural location.

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I must commend Isha on their excellent event management. In fact, it was one of the best I’ve experienced in terms of organization and pre-planning. Volunteers were strategically placed everywhere to guide participants, all the way from the car park to random road junctions around the venue, to the inside of the hall.

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There were even volunteers about half a mile away from the venue to redirect participants who had driven to the wrong area (yes, being an idiot with roads I was one of them, so thank you, random cute Isha volunteer dude). Once inside the venue, everything was in place and it was a well-oiled transition from registration to shoe organization, to taking the right lanes to reach designated seating areas.

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What is the Inner Engineering Program About?

Their official website says this about the program:

“Inner Engineering provides tools and solutions to empower yourself to create your life the way you want it. It gives you the opportunity to intellectually explore the basics of life using methods from the distilled essence of yogic sciences. The course imparts practical wisdom to manage your body, mind, emotions, and the fundamental life energy within. The program has been designed by Sadhguru, a yogi, visionary, and the foremost authority on yoga.”

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I’ve always liked Sadhguru for his down-to-earth attitude and his frankness. Sometimes I find him long-winded, but I understand that he’s speaking in a way tailored to the masses.

I attended Inner Engineering without any major goals or expectations in mind. I went for purely one reason: to see Sadhguru and experience his aura and energy in person. That’s it.

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As a (self-proclaimed) yogi, I’ll say this from my years of personal experience in all things spiritual: every yogic practice with ancient roots has complex and highly scientific reasons for them – it just wasn’t labelled as ‘science’ back then because it was simply a way of life. The effects of yogic practices are far-reaching and encompass many aspects of material life as we know it in addition to spiritual dimensions.

This review by me in no way discounts the value of Inner Engineering and my experience with Sadhguru. Some things can’t be fully explained using mere words, and the only way to truly know is to see, hear and feel it all in person. So I ask that you take my review with a pinch of salt, but attend Sadhguru’s program anyway if you feel it could be a valuable experience for you.

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All participants had to complete some online sessions as a prerequisite to the course. This involved watching a number of pre-recorded talks by Sadhguru and answering questions based on the content of his sermons in the videos. The questions weren’t like what you get in exams; they were geared towards inner reflection, self-realization and self-awareness, aimed more at turning the mind and focus inwards. I found this part extremely trying, but I diligently completed all sessions without cheating. Discipline, yay me.

Apart from some very simple physical exercises and the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya, the program was mainly made up of Sadhguru’s sermon, like his YouTube videos.

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What is the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya?

The Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya is the highlight of Inner Engineering. It’s a combination of actions, plus meditation and breathing (or breath control) techniques which, when done correctly, change the energy of the practitioner. Some people report various experiences during the 21 minutes it takes to complete this kriya, such as feelings of extreme bliss, weightlessness, seeing auras and colors, etc. To paraphrase from Sadhguru’s words, regular practice of this kriya will permanently raise and transform the energy levels of the body and give one heightened spiritual awareness.

Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya Initiation

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Sadhguru asked participants to refrain from initiating others into Shambhavi Mahamudra themselves, as it takes a proper spiritual master to do so. As a gesture of acknowledgement and respect to his request, I’ll not describe the kriya in detail here. It is, however, fairly straightforward and simple to do, as long as you receive proper initial instructions.

During the initiation of the kriya, Sadhguru himself went into what I would call a meditative state. He makes a whistling sound and claps his hands on and off when he goes into that mode. I’m not sure what that does, but perhaps it’s his way of dispersing his energy over large numbers of people – it was a crowd of more than 2000.

I didn’t experience anything drastic during the 21 minutes of the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya. What did happen for me was mild and pleasant. When I was doing the special breathing technique as instructed, I ‘saw’ what looked like cloudy violet auras or purple smoke behind my closed eyelids. It was fascinating to watch the colors swirling and transforming.

I did cheat one time for a few seconds and open my eyes a little, just to make sure they weren’t flashing any colored lights above me. Nothing of the sort. The lights in the hall were regular ones.

The only disruptive thing that happened during the kriya were a bunch of people wailing and screaming sporadically throughout. I’m not sure if those reactions were genuine or faked, but it sure annoyed the crap out of me. Guess I’m not yogi enough to be all blissful all the time, but hey, even Lord Shiva toasted Kamadeva to ashes when the latter dared disturb his meditation, and made him take a rebirth and everything. So whatever. Go ahead and judge me.

Much later into the program, about an hour after the kriya was done with, some fat guy stood up abruptly and started yelling, “Where are you Sadhguru, I can’t see you Sadhguru” while turning around in circles. With his eyes closed. Must’ve been some delayed spiritual enlightenment or chakra activation thing I’m clueless about. Anyway, Sadhguru was talking on the stage at that point, and spoke into the microphone to the volunteers, “Make him sit down”. I disagree with what Sadhguru did – should have said, “Make him open his eyes” instead.

Mortifying moments and cringe-worthy drama aside, all else was pretty normal.

Was Inner Engineering Life-Changing?

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As I went without expectations, everything I took away from the program was a bonus in terms of learning experience. The biggest life-changing experience for me happened in an ashram in the hills of Kerala in 2012, when I was meditating alone under a yellow-flowering tree abuzz with honeybees. My mind literally blew open on that sacred soil as I sat facing Mount Agastya, and my life has never been the same since.

Nothing else has ever come close to that astounding experience, but every spiritual thing I’ve done since has added on to it over the years. This was one of those things.

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Ananda Alai – A Wave of Bliss

This was the most touching part of the program. “Alai Alai” is a fantastic Tamil song created by the immensely talented artists and musicians of Isha, and it was played during Inner Engineering. Sadhguru got up from his dais, walked down the stage ramp and danced exuberantly with everyone. People were singing along, dancing, jumping, waving and crying tears of joy. It was simply fabulous.

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I was standing alone among the wildly ecstatic crowd, smiling at everything and nothing. I looked at the person next to me, a young man who had been incredibly stiff and serious since the start of the program. He had melted like butter and given himself up to the wave of bliss that was washing over the crowd. We smiled at each other, a brief moment of understanding between two strangers. I watched as he clapped, laughed and twirled  around with his arms in the air along with the rest.

That was a very moving experience with Sadhguru, and I’m glad I was there in person. The song is fantastic too. Here it is.

Conclusion

I’ll leave you with these final words.

If you’re thinking to go for Inner Engineering, don’t go if you feel it costs too much. Don’t go if you’re expecting some kind of mind-blowing, miraculous transformation to happen there. Don’t go if you want to ‘compare’ the man with other gurus and see if he’s the real thing or not.

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I would say Inner Engineering is like a bija mantra – a seed, if you will. Let it sow itself within you and you will flourish and transform, like a magnificent sacred tree.

If you’re open to learning and experiencing the magic of life as it unfolds moment by moment, this program could do something incredible for you. If you go into every experience in life without expectations, then you’ll see each moment anew, with fresh eyes, like a new-born baby who’s fascinated by the simplest things existence has to offer. Like Sadhguru says, again and again, “This moment is inevitable. This moment, now, is inevitable.”

I went for only one reason – Sadhguru. I saw him. I touched his feet when he walked past me. That was enough for me. He has added yet another lotus to my spiritual pond; this time, a lovely violet one.

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“As there is a science and technology to create external wellbeing, there is a whole dimension of science and technology for inner wellbeing.

Inner Engineering is neither a religion, nor a philosophy or dogma. It is a technology for wellbeing. One does not have to believe or disbelieve, just have to learn to use. Technology will produce results irrespective of who you are.” – Sadhguru

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Related Links:

Everything You Need to Know About Rudraksha (Part 1)

The Rudraksha Jabala Upanishad (Part 2)

Fashion Photoshoot: Project Israa

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by Jana Thevar and Shiva

Why We Did It

Shiva is a civil engineer by profession. Like me, he’s an artist, passion-wise. We often speak about collaborating on art projects but are always too busy with our day jobs. However, it finally happened. This is the first art project we did together. And what can I say? It was an amazing experience. We had lots of fun and learned a lot in the process.

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As a fine art photographer, Shiva loves to explore unconventional ideas. I am no less eccentric, which is probably why we make a good team (when we’re not fighting, at least).

This shoot was pretty much a regular fashion shoot, but since it was the first time we were working together on a personal art project, we didn’t get too crazy with things. He gave me some basic guidelines on the mood and emotions he wanted to capture in the model, but he left the fashion styling and wardrobe choices entirely to me. I didn’t really know what to expect either, so I formed some mental concepts and decided to go with the flow.

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As an ex-fashion editor of CLEO and wardrobe stylist on film sets, I’d worked with a lot of models before. From directing photo shoots and costuming to doubling up as a makeup artist, I’ve done a bunch of these things and thoroughly enjoyed myself along the way, before I ditched it all for the drab stability of financial-services cubicle life. These projects are my escape routes from my self-inflicted, modern-day slavery.

I’ve also been a die-hard fan of Vogue and haute couture since I could read, so you can say fashion is in my blood. My mum is a seamstress; a very good one too. I had all my dresses tailor-made for me right up to my teens. Sometimes, I helped my mum sew, especially during Diwali when there was too much to do. I literally grew up steeped in fashion.DSC_2399-1

My Fashion Styling for the Model

Our model expressed her wishes to be shot in street-style denim and muted colors, with some implied nudity thrown in. In fact, she’d contacted Shiva after seeing his fine art photography with a nude model, so we knew she was comfortable with that kind of art.

I asked if she was okay to try a saree, and she was game. I was excited; I loved draping sarees on non-Indian women. With an Indian woman you kind of know what it’s going to look like, but with a woman of a different ethnicity, it’s always a wonderful surprise.

I requested for a few pictures of her, full-length and without makeup, to get some ideas and inspiration on how to dress her. Then, I began the process of picking the outfits.

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She is from Sudan, and had the exotic, ethnic features of people from that region. I decided to use outfits that contrasted with the idea of fashion that’s generally associated with people of African roots (bright colors, turbans, bold prints, etc.). I asked her to keep the makeup neutral and natural so it would blend with a variety of looks.

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Her major plus points were her lovely figure and long legs, so I decided to play those features up with the clothes I chose for her. I picked a raincloud-grey jersey dress, an acid-wash denim miniskirt and jacket combo, a white and blue Bohemian-inspired ensemble, a sheer beige chiffon top and finally, a black saree with champagne and frosted copper detailing. With the modern clothes, I was aiming for a breezy, natural look – the kind you’d see on a city girl who’d gotten dressed to stroll the streets on a beautiful summer’s day.

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I loved the way the pictures turned out, they were perfect to me. The ones of her in the saree stunned me though. I don’t know how or why, but she suddenly transformed into a goddess the minute I finished draping the material over her. She just immediately became more elegant and graceful. She glowed. A demure, dark radiance. A saree does that to women, I’ve noticed. It brings out that sacred feminine beauty in ways that other outfits simply can’t.

I chose the saree based on her name, which means ‘Night Journey’ in Arabic. Here she is, the dark moon draped in a galaxy of stars. And Shiva captured her resplendence perfectly, in that precise moment when our energies of creation aligned. I created the look, she created the magic and he created the art with a click.

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Shiva Speaks

As a photographer, it would be a crime to say the role of a photographer is only limited to identifying special moments. I can be vilified for such a claim by the photographers’ community. I don’t really care. With the advent of technology, endless auto-modes and presets, anyone can capture a good quality photograph, even with a mobile phone.

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So what separates a photographer from a camera owner? It’s the eye for tasteful details that touch the artist in everyone. It’s just like good music. Everyone likes it but no one knows why and the composer would have most certainly not composed it academically.

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I’ve always been on the receiving end of questions like what is it that I intend to convey through a particular photograph. My answer is always the same; none. Art is just a reflection of our inner being manifesting in completely purposeless action; purposeless as far as satiating our rudimentary survival needs is concerned.

Art is self-expression, something as simple as a wink or showing your middle finger in anger. It should not be academic. Do you calculate how high you have to raise your hand and the moment force to be applied to express the right amount of anger when you show your middle finger? That’s my type of photography. I don’t overthink the outcome. I don’t plan my shots. I don’t think about the rule of thirds, shadows behind the nasal bridge and the grains in the highlights. The details are always there for us to see, everywhere and anywhere, in the darkness and in bright sunshine. You don’t see the stars during the full moon and when you get to see the stars during new moon, you don’t get to see the moon. The moments are just beautifully unfolding perpetually. We fail to see them more often than not.

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I am an impulsive photographer. I click each time I see a good moment from my perspective. I don’t give out too many instructions, let alone clear ones. I told Jana a few things. “I am a fine art photographer. Whoever I shoot and whatever the theme, I want my pictures to be a double edged sword. Seductive without being obscene, raw yet aesthetic, gracefully minimalistic. Strictly no manipulation of body parts. Capture human beauty in its natural state”.

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She suggested a little bit of makeup, some clothes, and maybe heels. I would rather take a lot of stick than to receive a diplomatic compliment. Diplomacy and normalcy are like flaccid dick. Not much use. A hard on is debatable. Men think a hard on makes them superhuman. Women feel it’s equally boring because men don’t last. But there it is; a double edged sword and hoopla. Anyway, I was just kidding.

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All three of us showed up on the day of the photo shoot. I set up some basic lighting. The stylist decided on the outfit, the model posed with the input from the stylist and I clicked. Both of them created the moments and the details for me. They were brilliant. I just needed to click at the right time. I think the outcome of their work was quite impressive.

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Related Links:

What Does it Take to be a Model?

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