it was great to be able to attend the Amma program in chicagoland this year. i didn’t make it last year, and don’t recall if i made it the year before. it’s beautiful to see everything she and her NGO, Embracing the World, have done to help others. and it’s amazing to see how long she sits giving hugs to everyone. the energy is great and its nice how many chants, pujas, food, meditations, speeches, etc there are during the program.

one of the most amazing aspects of the program is the energy flowing through that everyone is feeling. consciousness moves quickly when in the presence of higher energy, or a being at such a place. i could see aspects of myself being reflected in others i saw or interacted with throughout the program. for example, the first day i was feeling a bit disconnected (or sitting in a charge or feeling), and i saw how most of my friends that i hadn’t seen in a while seemed to have to leave or were busy with something or other, and we weren’t really able to connect or chat that much. some things i noticed were more subtle, just how others moved or their subtle expressions, and i noticed how these were aligned with what i was feeling and experiencing at the time. i know that i’ve certainly felt that i could naturally be a mirror for others to see what they’re facing without even trying.. perhaps its just that i’m naturally feeling what they’re feeling/facing and that’s whats flowing through me (to give them a chance to see it in a new way so they can let it go). in the great energy and presence at the Amma program, it seemed like so many must’ve been in tune with feeling what each other were feeling that i was seeing this happening in them too (or perhaps they didn’t even know they were feeling/reflecting it and it was just the divine showing it to me through them). i know i’ve seen this happen through others in the past too.. perhaps a part of it was also that i was more in tune with what others were feeling that i was able to see the subtle aspects more clearly as well. i won’t get lost in exploring exactly what was happening, though it was nice to be able to experience it happening, despite sometimes it not being as pleasant, such as when i felt i wasn’t connecting with others.

it was nice to see friends from the flowering heart center and spiritual communities up here that i hadn’t seen since last year. i look forward to seeing some of them at the weekly gatherings when i’m here. its nice to attend different events and see familiar faces, and be able to connect a bit.

its also nice to make new connections. its funny to see how what i was feeling was affecting my ability to make new connections as well. i had some resistance or something that was preventing me from just saying hi and connecting with others. another thing i noticed is that how when surrendering and not being attached to outcome, such as wanting to have a nice conversation, things can just flow naturally and effortlessly and will happen when you don’t expect them to. on the second day i volunteered to do seva work to clean up after a puja. i didn’t think too much about how the puja would be.. after the clean up i went for a walk and sat under a tree for a little while. everything just felt more peaceful. my mind is usually quiet though there may be some underlying feeling still there. after the puja, that underlying feeling wasn’t there and everything just felt a little more relaxed and quiet. after sitting for a while, i walked into the main hall to get a seat before the evening program would begin. i didn’t think too much about where i’d sit or when i should go in or anything. i just went in when i felt was the time to get up and walk over there. i was directed by those helping with seating and the seat i was directed to was right in the very middle of the room, in the front row of one of the middle sections, so i had a clear view of where Amma would be in the front of the hall. it seemed this was the last seat left in this row as others had left something on the ones to my right and a few others were sitting to my left. a while later, just before the program was about to begin, i saw a girl (that i had stood right behind in the lunch line) walking down the aisle and i think we smiled a little at each other. (when i noticed her in the lunch line ealier that day, perhaps i had a thought that it’d be nice to connect with her.. i don’t recall for sure) she sat next to me and i wondered what to say. a few moments later i asked if she had seen Amma before. i learned that she had just spent a year at Amma’s ashram in India and was just back to get a new visa so she could spend a couple more years over there taking classes. she seemed pretty blissed out from the whole experience as a new devotee. i recall her saying that when she went to the ashram that Amma got her. we chatted briefly before the program started. she was nice and i wanted to connect more after the meditation was over. i was a bit distracted during Amma’s speech as the mind thought about it. after the meditation i didn’t want to say something right away in case she was still embracing the energy for a while. i thought i’d wait a little bit, but then she checked a voicemail or something on her phone after a few moments and left. i don’t recall if i saw her the rest of the evening or the next morning. the next evening i noticed her and ended up walking past her near the end of the program and waved as i went to get a chai tea. after i got the tea and was drinking it in the sitting area at the back, i noticed she was sitting at another table right by me. a little while after trying to see if there were extra chairs by her, i got up and sat by her and we chatted for a couple minutes. it was nice to learn that she found out about Amma from someone she was working for and she just went over to ashram and ended up staying. its funny how things simply flow when we’re more in tune. i’m not sure that she expected to stay at the ashram, though things unfolded for her to go there and she ended up staying.. similar to how i ended chatting with her the second time. she happened to go to the back of the room at the same time i did (perhaps she wanted to connect more and just went there to see if i’d see her and sit by her, or she simply was hungry at the same time.. either way, it all seemed to be in divine order, and from a place of higher awareness, it becomes more clear how everything is truly connected).

i noticed a lot of little things happening like this, where things just flowed and unfolded on their own. it was also great to notice when things didn’t flow so well, which was usually when the mind was thinking too much about something, such as during devi bhava when i was focused on holding the blessed water we received the whole time (as i didn’t want to set it down on the floor or drop it). it felt like a relief when i was able to bring it to my van and pour it into a bottle, as i knew i had gotten the blessed water and could continue to make more by simply adding more water to the bottle. at one point during the speech or meditation i sensed that the envelope i had placed the closed water cup into seemed to be wet.. with all my concern over it, i must’ve squeezed it too hard and some leaked out (gratefully there was still some inside that i poured into my Amma water bottle). its funny how much we hang on to and wait for, and how much of our attention or energy it can consume. yes, it was great to get the water, though trying to hold on to or have the mind control the little cup made me less present than i could’ve been had i just relaxed and trusted that i wasn’t going to drop the water cup and it’d be okay. so many little things like this can easily consume us and take us away from the present moment (such as concentrating on the water up made me focused on wanting to take it to my van right afterwards, and i had also had thoughts about chatting with the girl whom sat down next to me afterwards, though the little cup was becoming such a burden). i think Amma mentioned something similar in one of her speeches.

after dropping off the water i bought one of the ezekiel sprout wraps to keep in my van to eat after the program was over. perhaps i was radiating light or just feeling good and didn’t even realize it as the girl who was at the wrap table seemed to respond like i was when we interacted. or possibly she was just feeling great from the meditation or liked me or was simply shining her light to inspire me to do the same. afterwards i thought it would’ve been nice to chat a little more with her, though when i walked by the table later in the evening she wasn’t there. it’s funny how things can shift so fast when we’re in the flow. i suppose she was only meant to be there for that one moment, and me looking to sustain or re-create that moment didn’t work. only when i didn’t expect that interaction or nice moment did it occur. it’s interesting living from the heart, a place of feeling, or from higher awareness. it’s always given me the greatest or most profound experiences compared to when i’ve lived from the mind. even though the mind is quiet, its nice to step out of it every once in a while (or all the time!). i suppose my biggest challenge in living from the heart has been learning to surrender and trust that everything is going to continue to flow. from the place of the mind, we have the illusion that we’re in control and taking the right steps to go in the direction we want to go, however it’s nowhere near as profound as living in the moment and watching everything unfold on its own. i can see in a sense how this ties into some of what Amma mentioned about negativity. the mind can be quite negative and a reason one might want to live from the mind and try to control things would be one has had previous experiences that didn’t work out that one is trying to avoid. this really is fear.. in fact, or at least most likely, all living from the mind is living a fear-based reality. when life flows from a spontaneous place of higher awareness or feeling, its so much more fun. some of my most enjoyable moments have been out of spontaneity and following my feelings.

i can see how this ties into what happened next.. a moment that wasn’t exactly as i had expected. after putting the wrap in my fridge, i went to the dining hall to get dinner. there was a bit of a line and most of the tables were full. i went to one of the last tables by the door and asked the person sitting at the end if anyone was sitting in the empty seats there. i sat a couple seats in, right across from a girl who was sitting by herself. i thought to myself perhaps i could chat with her as i was feeling good about the little connection i made buying the wrap, though i was feeling resistance as to what to say. she wasn’t making direct eye contact so i just began to eat my meal. i thought that if she made eye contact i’d say something. i continued to eat while trying to glance every so often to see if she was looking at me. the resistance and whole thought process made it feel a little awkward though i tried not to think too much about it and just went about eating my meal. after a couple or few minutes, i saw a guy walk into the dining hall and approach the table. she had her back to the door though i immediately sensed that he was with her. i wonder if perhaps i was feeling awkward or not knowing what to say because i wasn’t meant to chat with her. it was a bit more awkward after that as i just continued to eat and try not to look directly at them (though made a little eye contact wih them). i was wondering what they felt, if he thought i was trying to pick up his girlfriend. i had thoughts that i made a mistake, as i didn’t know she was with him, and also thought i was just trying to practice connecting with others and breaking free of my resistance of connecting with others. at the end, they both spoke to me, wishing me a good evening and i said thanks, you too. it felt like this was also a divine appointment and a learning experience. the whole situation arose out of the desire of the mind rather than the spontaneous action that the previous experience arose from. [or perhaps it still was a bit of spontaneous action as it did unfold for it to happen.. perhaps even part of it was something they needed to experience and i was also being the conduit/reflection for their experience to unfold. it’s funny how many layers/aspects/perspectives there are to something] as with the previous girl, i didn’t see them again in the evening. nor did i see the girl who sat next to me during the peace meditation whom i only spoke briefly with, asking if it was her first time there when it seemed she was unfamiliar with the blessed water.

a little later in the evening i was sitting in the main hall and felt i’d go for a walk to see if i’d see anyone i knew to connect with. i walked toward the back of the hall and didn’t see anyone so was going to walk outside. as i approached the doors i noticed a friend i had met years ago at the avatar course talking to someone and then stopped and looked at her (as she had also looked at me in surprise). it was a bit of a surprise but not super shocking either, as everything just seems to flow in perfect order and make sense, and there really is nothing extremely surprising, depending on our viewpoint. i walked toward her and we chatted for a bit. its funny as when she asked what i was doing or up to, i said looking for friends to chat with and then i saw her. i went with her to the dining hall as she was about to get a bite to eat. it was funny as i didn’t know she followed Amma and hadn’t seen her in over 6 years since the last Avatar Course i went to. she had just started as part of the staff this year and was on the tour with Amma. we weren’t able to chat too long as she had to get back to her shift, though it was awesome to see her there unexpectedly. its amazing what can unfold when we don’t expect it and just experience life. i mentioned the ideas i’ve had for a sustainable spiritual community and learned that she’s also interested in creating a spiritual community, over in Boulder. it’d be awesome to have a community over there to visit or stay at part of the year. a long time ago i envisioned different communities or centers and traveling to/between them, and its beautiful to see the pieces starting to come together. (it’s also nice to see these unfolding on their own, rather than me having to create everything myself like i do with other projects, though thats a whole other tangent) i’ve been thinking more seriously of getting a tiny home or travel trailer to go back and forth between florida and chicagoland, and possibly go out west at some point, and a community in colorado would also be awesome and another reason to have a tiny home. i just have to trust that i’ll find land in florida and a place in chicagoland i can park, and it’ll all unfold. after the program had ended, i wanted to say goodbye to my friend before she left, though didn’t see her in the hall. i went to the van for a little while and then walked over toward the hall and decided to walk up the path toward the other part of the ashram/campus. after walking for a little bit, i noticed that my friend was just right ahead of me. i don’t even know where she appeared from. i suppose i wasn’t fully paying attention or whatnot (which seems to be a good way to allow things to happen as by not knowing what might happen, one allows more room/space for things to unfold rather than being locked into any one particular aspect of one’s reality). i walked up ahead and waved and she introduced me to a friend of hers who was also from avatar. it’s funny as she said they/we were dropouts as none of us have gone back recently. as we got a couple hundred feet up the path, my friend had to get on the bus to go to the next city of the tour. it was a bit of a miracle how it unfolded that i just happened to walk right up to her without knowing if i would or not. i had previously wanted to say/hug goodbye, though was also thinking i’d just walk and see if i saw any of my friends to say bye to, and the timing was perfect for me to see her.

i love that the Amma program has a lot happening, though one can just hang out or wander about the space and allow life to unfold the lessons and awareness. it reminds me a bit of the Avatar Courses in this sense, as it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere with everyone experiencing at their own pace most of the time. i think that’s one of the most profound aspects of spending time at the ashram during the program. there is a bit of a schedule as to the time of the speeches/meditation/etc, though there is plenty of time during the darshan to hang out and have one’s own experience as well. it’s like a playground to experience and learn in the space of higher awareness / presence. [upon re-reading this last line, that sounds like a great vision for the spiritual/sustainable community i’ve longed to create]

my experience with the darshan itself was interesting.. the first day i didn’t get there until mid-afternoon and got a late token. a little later, i noticed that i must’ve dropped the token when i pulled out my key from my pocket (or perhaps i lost it when i went to ask the volunteer running the line when that token would come up as it had a double letter after the initial letter). i went back to the token table and asked if i could have another, saying i lost it and had checked by/in my van where i thought it might be. the girl who had given me the token said she’s not supposed to and to look again. i asked what if i can’t find it, and she said just to go look (seeming to indicate we’ll figure that out at that point). i went looking in/near my van again and asked those near the token line entrance (and looked there), and couldn’t find it. afterward, i went back to the girl at the token table and said i couldn’t find it and she handed me a new token, saying it was much later. i thanked her and don’t recall what i went to do afterwards. i had to wait a while, but it didn’t end up being that much more time for the new token to go up after the original one. when i was up on the stage and received darshan, i wasn’t sure if i had felt anything and went to sit down in the other rows on the stage after darshan. i also wasn’t able to understand what Amma was saying when giving darshan. it seemed to be different than i had recalled her saying in the past. as i moved up closer, watching others receiving darshan, i still wasn’t feeling anything. after a while, almost near the end of when i was up on stage, i felt i could invoke the divine and let it flow/radiate it through me, like i do when giving blessings. after i did so, i started to feel a nice warm feeling emanating on the stage. perhaps this was simply a reminder to remember that i can tune into the divine whenever i feel the need or calling.

on the morning of the second day, i went to the token table when i got in and asked if we could receive darshan again if we had received the day before. they said to check during the evening program after the meditation. that night i went to the token line after the meditation and got another token. i think i may have misunderstood or mis-heard the question they were asking about whether i had received darshan before, and wasn’t sure if they were referring to that program or that day or earlier in the summer or something (i don’t recall at this point what it was).. perhaps i wasn’t supposed to get a token that evening though they had seemed to indicate in the morning that i could. i wasn’t too attached to whether or not i’d actually receive darshan that evening as i had received the night before and would the next evening for devi bhava. i figured if i was supposed to, the divine would guide me to and i would stay up and receive it. shortly after, i went to my van to lay down as i was tired and ended up falling asleep for a couple hours. i woke up and saw how much time had passed and went into the main hall. they had the sign up saying for everyone with a token to go to the line. looks like i had woken up just in time to receive darshan. i ended up being one of the last in line to receive a hug that evening. when i received darshan, Amma said what i remembered her saying in the past years: “my darling, my darling”.

on the evening of devi bhava, i got in the room pretty early and got a middle token number. after i chatted with my friend briefly as she ate her dinner, i went back to the main hall and ran into someone asking if i could help volunteer with kitchen cleanup. after looking at the current token number, i said yes i could help for a little bit. a few of us started following a staff member out of the hall and i saw my friend i had just chatted with smile as she saw me going. i helped sweep the floors in the kitchen and was going to help mop but there were still a lot of people in there cleaning up. a bit of time had passed so i said i’d come back later (as i thought my token number might be up). when i got back to the hall, the token letter was on what i had and was one number ahead of my group. i got in line and received darshan. when i was sitting in the row of chairs on the stage waiting to receive darshan, i had the thought/intention of healing and perhaps something else as part of receiving darshan. when i got up to Amma, the helpers told me to put my hands down on the side of the chair as they guided me to kneel down and told me to lean forward as i closed my eyes. in that moment, the thought/intention “i am peace” came to me.

it was interesting that it came to me at that moment, as that sometimes regularly comes to me during blessing circles and at other times around others. i also recall that when receiving a mantra from Amma a few years ago, they asked for a word of how i describe the divine or my connection to it, and i said peace, and they/Amma gave me a mantra related to that. i also recall that same time, i think it was one of the evenings the first time i saw Amma in 2013, that i felt to be in a more peaceful state or higher level of consciousness, and i had the intention for my level of consciousness to be at a minimum of 600, the level of peace on Dr David R Hawkins’ map of consciousness. perhaps since that time (or earlier) i have been vibrating at that frequency.

when i was receiving darshan, Amma said something to someone else up there in her language. i heard another voice say something like “he’s pretending to be asleep”. i don’t recall if that voice said why or anything else after those words. either before or after that, i also heard another voice, perhaps the same one though perhaps a different one, saying or asking something about doing the mantra. and i may have heard that voice say something about not needing to do the mantra (or perhaps that was my own thought). its possible Amma was talking to someone else on stage about something else, as i’ve seen her do, though its also quite possible that this whole thing was about me. or, even if it was about someone else, that i happened to hear it at the time i was there was certainly a message for me. afterward the rest of the darshan was similar to previous ones with her saying “my darling, my darling” and embracing me and then in the middle re-positioning me or my head as she embraced me. afterwards, when i leaned back upright, i put my hands together in front of my chest/heart as a sign of “namaste” or “om namah shivaya”.

an interesting aspect i just recalled is that the guy who did the second puja (that i volunteered at earlier that afternoon) had told a story that he would regularly go to Amma to receive darshan/blessing every time before he would do the puja, and once he went twice the same day as he had two pujas that day. Amma then told him that he already has the blessing and doesn’t need to go every time he does the puja. he said that afterwards he would just sit in the audience and see Amma’s smile and know he has the blessing, and then do the puja. perhaps my experience was related to this.

it seems that Amma was sensing/feeling/seeing/knowing that i’m already awakened/liberated, and perhaps the pretending part of what i heard was related to me not fully living from an awakened place in order to be able to fit in with others, or to receive love from others, or to not have to fully partake in what an awakened being could do. i didn’t hear the rest of the message but those are the feelings that i had after i heard the first part. i wonder if the whole message even happened internally and i was just hearing it as if it had happened externally, though it may have been her actually saying it outloud in her language and someone translating it either for me or others there to hear (as seemed to be my experience in the physical reality).

i can see how the message could be quite relative to my experience and a bit of guidance for me. i can see how perhaps it was simply a reflection of my thoughts about the guy doing the puja and the experience he shared earlier that afternoon. though its likely that its a bit of both. its all related, and it can be quite crazy when we step into higher awareness to see how all the pieces of the puzzle of this reality/experience are unfolding perfectly. it seems that it is time for me to continue more deliberately on this spiritual path and to continue to shine and radiate my light more confidentally.. which is also interesting as parts of the speeches she told were related to negativity and the last evening she said something about negativity taking away confidence and such, and i’ve seen a lot of negativity (and opposing viewpoints) in the physical reality in recent times (and see how this has had an influence on me and my reality).

it’s time to deliberately choose to create the beautiful reality and world we want to create, regardless of what is showing up in the external world. we create the reflections of the external world from our internal knowing, and especially so as awakened or liberated beings. we can transcend this illusion should we choose to. its simply a matter of choosing a new direction if we don’t like the one we’re on. in recent times i’ve started to see more signs of our world starting to go in the right direction (despite there also being a lot of signs that we’re not). focus on what you want to see and don’t let others or the external world steer you astray. the more of us that choose to co-create a beautiful world, the sooner we will all see it unfold. in the meantime, enjoy all the strange ‘coincidences’ that unfold in this crazy dream/illusion called reality.

[it seems that a part of me stepping back in the spiritual direction i want and inspiring others is in sharing and writing my experiences. i had a couple friends i saw at the Amma program tell me that they enjoy reading what i write. it was a bit of effort to start to write this yesterday as i barely had any sleep as i stayed up all night for devi bhava and just napped for maybe an hour or two in the morning afterwards, though i’m glad to do so. i really do enjoy it when i feel inspired and the words flow through me. perhaps forcing myself to write can be a way of setting the intention that i do want to allow the flow to occur, and i’ll accept it if not everything i write is as good or perfect as everything else.. it’ll be more real that way as well]

[its funny, as i was finishing writing/editing this, someone just walked by across the atrium here playing some audio program talking about consciousness expanding.. and this is in a shared office building where my friend’s company was located. i recall last year there regularly being annoying loud bass music playing in the morning by people driving up and hanging out in their cars before going to work. today, this was the opposite of what i had expected to find here.. this is another sign that as we change so too does the world around us. at the Amma program i recall seeing someone wearing a shirt saying “be the change”…]