It was an absolute honor to have Sri Dharma Mittra in Dublin this week. I was fortunate enough to meet Dharma ten years ago in New York when I began taking his yoga classes.
I knew then that Dharma was quite different to other yogis I had met. He came across then as a true Guru and an enlightened being. When I was close to returning to Dublin after my time in New York, I was deeply upset to leave Dharma to embark on my solitary yoga path. He said to me many times, “ I always tell you, you are your own guru,” and “Be receptive. You can always contact me if you think of me, psychically.” (!!) I believed him and I often attempt to contact him psychically in meditation. (He did also concede, and gave me his e-mail address just in case the psychic channels weren’t open!)
I believed him when he said to me, “Some day I will see you in Dublin, and you will have your own yoga studio.” I honoured this belief, and some years later was in a position to set up a yoga studio, and in the Spring, he accepted the invitation to visit Dublin for the first time.
I don’t know if he saw it psychically those ten year ago, or if they were genuine words of encouragement. Either way, I now know I was waiting for Hush Yoga studio to open before I would invite Dharma to come here.
Dharma went out of his way to be here to share with the Irish yoga community. It wasn’t the plan to come to Ireland at all even a few short months ago. I advocated to Dharma that yoga is on the rise here, but we need a little spiritual help. He answered this call and so came on Tuesday last.
Apart from it being the right time for me professionally to invite Dharma here, it’s also the right time for the yogis of Ireland. We are generally asana (yoga posture) focused in this country. I know many of us yogis have a deeper interest in the other aspects of yoga; the eight limbs of yoga and jnana yoga (the yoga of knowledge). Some of us crave to learn more about the subtle body and the astral plains, mantra, japa, chakras and meditation. However, it can be difficult to remain on a spiritual path without a spiritual guru, such as Dharma, at our fingertips.
A guru is someone who opens your eyes to the salve of knowledge. At the workshop, Sri Dharma did just that. He opened our eyes to the knowledge that already exists in all of us. He reminded us that God resides in the right side of our heart, our spiritual heart. It lives there, a small light in everyone, and begins to shine brighter and bigger the more aware we become. He reminded us of the yamas and niyamas, or ethical practices, of the eight-fold path of yoga.
He shared that by practicing these alone, our consciousness could move from the three worldly lower chakras to the more spiritual higher chakras, such as the heart chakra. When this happens, we find true contentment and inner peace that doesn’t rely on worldly pleasures and possessions for happiness. While it is okay to enjoy the material world, we must realize that inner peace comes from within, not from what one has on the outside.
Dharma always talks about Ahimsa more than any other ethical practice. Even ten years ago when I was under his guidance, it was what he most emphasized. Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence towards all beings; to cause no pain or harm to anyone or any living thing. It can be taken to extremes such as veganism, not eating or using any animal product, or it can be taken in a very simple context, which is not to cause pain or suffering to others, even in thoughts. This practice is a most beneficial practice to all beings. Sri Dharma often quotes the Lord Buddha who also taught Ahimsa through the practice of loving kindness. When practicing loving kindness one sends compassion out to the world, to all beings, including our enemies. It doesn’t mean you invite all these people into your lives; you can keep them at a distance, but only with the understanding that they are just like you. They have a spirit inside them that is covered by layers of ignorance, just as you are covered with layers that put you at odds with others.
If you send compassion out to the world and practice Ahimsa, you will move your consciousness to the heart and throat chakras, and you will begin to find peace and stillness in your life and mind. Your frustration or fight towards enemies of your world will dissipate and will be replaced with compassion. By doing this, you can evolve, and by evolving, you help others to do the same, even your enemies. This is acting in Truth and in the service of yourself and others.
The other thing that struck me most is how Dharma spoke about our minds and thoughts. He reminded us that we are not our thoughts. We are here to observe the mind, not to be the mind. By practicing all aspects of yoga we begin to understand the true self. The pranayama techniques he teaches are to strengthen the mind so we are not drawn into the mundane negativities of this world. When we keep the mind strong we become positive and gain insightfulness.
In the first workshop we did some chanting to open up the chakras and a simple prananyama technique to purify energy channels. It was Sri Dharma’s intention to teach us more pranayama in the second workshop; however participants were eager to engage with questions, and time did not fully permit. I presume he felt it was more important to answer these questions than to continue to teach what he had set out to do on the workshop agenda.
Some people expressed some disappointment at not getting to learn his psychic development technique through pranayama, but I trust there was some greater reason why it didn’t pan out that way. I can only hope that everyone received something or as much as I did from being in the presence of Dharma Mittra, a true Guru and enlightened being.
I wish Dharma could have stayed for longer and I know he wished he could have too. He promised the next time he’d come for a few days. He commented on how lovely the people were at the workshop. I miss him already. It’s so hard to stay on my spiritual path without him. We really are all such baby yogis.
In time, we’ll have our gurus in Ireland, but for now, as Dharma told me, we can contact our gurus psychically by closing our eyes, to visualize a guru in meditation. As Dharma says, “Be receptive,” as they certainly are receptive. Your eyes will open to the salve of knowledge; the world will become a magical place; you will help others to find their true self along the way by simply finding out who you really are.
Om ajnana-timirandhasya, Jnananjana-salakaya, Caksur unmilitum yena, Tasmai sri-gurave namah.
– I offer my respects unto my spiritual master who has opened my eyes, which were blinded with the darkness of ignorance by applying the salve of knowledge.
Om Love, Sinead