Julian gave me the opportunity to do two workshops (Pranayama workshop and Freedom From Stress workshop) at Matagiri, Woodstock, NY, USA. It was a pleasure to stay with Julian and Wendy and enjoy their warm hospitality. Julian is an inspiring, walking encyclopedia of Integral Yoga Network, with infinite energy. He introduced me to Vivek, who organized a Pranayama session at the Sri Aurobindo Yoga Foundation of North America (SAYFNA) at Morganville, NJ. This was the first glimpse of the extended family of Integral Yoga (IY) of the Mother and Sri Aurobndo and realizing that IY is also the network of Human Unity. I did not even know that such network existed and I was already part of it. While I was in NJ, I also made a presentation (via skype) to the annual meeting of AVI on the project to set up a network and data center at Auroville to reduce carbon footprint and electromagnetic smog from mobile phones. I am happy that this was well received and seen as an important initiative to make Auroville border-less.
Even though I visited USA many times earlier, it is only now that I saw a people who are basically united despite diversity in their origins.
The first event in Europe was an Integral being Workshop at Dransfeld, Germany, arranged by Kristine. Kristine visited Auroville in 1971 and has been walking the spiritual path since her teens. She is also a QiGong teacher and translator par-excellence. I enjoyed a brief visit to the lovely city Munster, thanks to Raphael, a doctor transformed into a disciple of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and founded “Field-Dynamics” after studying "Life Divine". Ilka invited me to Rodenberg, Germany to do a Pranayama for well being workshop. Ilka touches many lives through her week-end retreats and individual counseling. The last stop in Germany was the historic city of Berlin, where I did Freedom from Stress and Pranayama workshops at the Sri Aurobindo Center, Berlin, thanks to Isa. Isa started her spiritual journey when she was 8 years young and persevered while in Foreign Service! The visit to to Checkpoint Charlie was like a pilgrimage in Human Unity! It is amazing to see Germany as it is today and it is an eye-opener for me to meet so many people who have been walking the spiritual path for decades.
Next was Amsterdam, the eco-conscious city that breaths freedom., where I met Mundo, who is an epitome of 'being' , even though he is barely 30 and enjoyed his hospitality. he welcomed me to his home even though he never met me and we did not even know each other till Anna introduced us when I was exploring places to stay in Amsterdam. He quit his role as a founder of a company and is the founder of Hart Werkers. Jose, whose enthusiasm and energy are infectious, organized Pranayama and Freedom From Stress & Happiness Workshops at her Center for Being. Onwards to Nijmegen to enjoy the warm hospitality of Johan and Gonnie, who also made a Pranayama Workshop possible . I was delighted that Wim of AVI, The Netherlands cycled from across the German Border to attend the workshop. Johan is one of the most multi-skilled technical person I ever met!
I could visit the incredible city of Istanbul, thanks to Gunnur and Tugay of AVI, Turkey . Tugay radaites peace like a Sufi Saint and Gunnur always has a beatific smile (except when she is laughing). She created a unique healing retreat on a boat that went around the Aegean Sea. Here I got to know Elif and Guray and had the fortune to do Well being and healing retreat. I enjoyed staying at the home of Guray and Elif along with the children and Elif's mother at Marmaris. The people of Turkey were uniting to express their love for freedom and I was privileged to have a glimpse of it.
I moved on to UK to do a week-end Integral Being Retreat in the lovely, converted oast house of Sonia at Robertsbridge for the committee members of AVI, UK, thanks to Martin. Sonia is a Savitri scholar, who first visited Auroville in 1979! It was a pleasure to stay with the sage-like Martin and Dany and enjoy their sweet hospitality in the the idyllic English country side. Martin was weaned on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo since his childhood by his mother. For me, Martin is Integral Yoga, personified. He introduced me to ConciuosLab, London, where I gave a talk on Emotional Wellness. I prefer workshops as they could be experiential, but (successfully) experimented to make it an experiential event. The biggest surprise for me is that not only Claudia, Shilpa, Roshni, Harsh but almost everyone that I met at the event have been touched by the Integral Yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Knowing that I only saw the tip of the ice-berg, I marvel at the power and magic of the IY Network of Human Unity! I was fortunate that Helen showed me round London. Alan Vickers invited me to his cozy home in the lovely suburbs of London. I had a wonderful visit with Alan and Sara. Alan was in Auroville in the very early years and the Mother gave him the name of "Vikas". Vikas took me to Cambridge and the highlight was visiting King's College, where Sri Aurobindo studied. London must be having the highest diversity of races and regions. England gave the world English, the most commonly spoken language that has been helping in weaving the fabric of Human Unity.
My last stop was Budapest, made possible by Bogi of AVI, Hungary. Bogi is a bundle of energy, like a human dynamo and amidst all her other commitments, created an opportunity for me to offer all the three parts of the Integral Being program - Good Health and Wellbeing, Freedom from stress, Happiness & beyond workshops, a grand finale to this magical trip. Making freinds with Barny, their 6 year old son is one of the biggest bonuses for me.
We had a full day event on Saturday, 13th July and half day event on 14th . As Bogi and her family were traveling to Serbia in the afternoon of 14 July, they shifted me to their city flat on 13th morning. My wallet with passport, considerable amount of money and credit /debit cards was stolen around 10pm, while I was walking from the venue of “Happiness and Beyond” workshop to the flat. I don’t know Hungarian, voice calls were not going through in my mobile, there was no internet in the flat and I was to leave to Frankfurt in the evening of 16th to catch my flight to Bangalore. Quite a situation to be in! While I did not like it at all (to say the least), it had its value. The first is that I needed to be ‘present’ and be in the moment in order to practice the tools techniques I know. The second is that the tools and techniques were put to a a good test and my own conviction in the veracity of these is redoubled. I reached the flat around 1:45AM after the police complaint and could have nice restful sleep of 2 hours, woke up at 4AM, did my own yoga practice, went to an internet café, talked to my wife and on skype, blocked all cards and was at the venue in time for the workshop and had a great workshop. The third and most important aspect was that I was peaceful in the company of illegal immigrants on 16th afternoon when I could recollect the jail term of Sri Aurobindo. I was happy and grateful that I am blessed to be in a situation not to illegally cross borders in order to eke out a lively hood and felt compassion for them. That was a magical moment. I found a new key to acceptance through connecting with the lives of Masters!
Europe is certainly showing the way to heal old wounds and go forward. It is a miracle that today Europe is border-less - barely 70 years from the mutually inflicted wounds of World War II. If these can heal, why not the wounds of the first millennium? Something to learn from Europe; to forgive and reconnect with each other because we are all already One.
Right from the first thought of going to Europe, there was an effortless flow, a synchronicity, that made the whole experience uniquely and incredibly enjoyable. I am blessed to experience the natural beauty and the rainbow of the culture of Europe and be shown around by such loving, caring and inspiring people who made the experience very vivid and transformational for me through their lives inter-twined with the space and time in history. Ashesh, Jaya and Vani helped me to contact the many people I did not know earlier. I received a lot of love, affection, support and help from everyone that I contacted with and was welcomed with open arms in every place I visited. My heart is filled and overflowing with gratitude and happiness.