Dhyana Sadhana Saptaham is designed as an intensive inner journey program. It challenges the participants to adapt to a rigorous schedule. Getting out of the comfort zone by breaking old routines such as waking up before sunrise and switching to sattvic diet can initially be very hard. However, this step is necessary and proves beneficial in the long run. The abrupt change makes us examine our old ways and lifestyle choices. Then it helps us set a new benchmark for a lifestyle supportive of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
At the beginning of the program, Anand Kumar from the Kolar District faced some common beginner’s challenges: how to assume a proper meditation posture, how to keep eyes closed during the entire meditation session, how to stop comparing himself to others, and stay focused on his own progress. When he heard Brahmashri Patriji’s way of addressing the audience: ‘My dear Gods, we are all Gods,’ something resonated deeply with him. Soon after, he started observing positive behavioral changes in himself and in the people around him. He became grateful towards everyone. ‘We learnt so much from each other,’ he says. Whenever he felt discouraged in his practice, seeing the enthusiasm among his batch mates, especially among elders, he immediately felt lifted up.
During the first day in the program, Chandra Prakash, a participant from Bangalore, felt restless and aware of strain and pain in his body. With time, he not only eased into the meditation pose, but also got rid entirely of any pain in his body. Among the other challenges he mentions giving up the mobile phone during the program. This made him aware of our often unhealthy attachment to technology. The experience taught him to focus on himself and to improve his concentration and meditation. From his seven-day experience he also learned that he requires more meditation and less time for sleep.
‘Anapanasati meditation sounds very scientific, but in essence it is very simple - it is about focus on the breath,’ notes Narayan from Bangalore. He felt that the Valley itself supports the meditator, and while residing on the campus, meditation became very easy. He also discovered that the quality of his sleep improved. Even though he reduced his sleep, it was easy for him to wake up at 3:00 am, without any alarm clock. He says he enjoyed the sattvic food available during the program, and understood the link between the quality of the food we eat and the depths we experience during meditation.
Before attending the program, Ramesh Babu from Bangalore never used to sit in one place for more than 20 minutes. Therefore, for four days he was experiencing severe pain in his spine, waist and knees. He needed to change his posture frequently, and stretch his legs. ‘I kept adjusting myself through trial and error,’ he says. Gradually, his body started listening to him, and he is now thankful for the transformative experience.
The program brings benefits to experienced meditators as well. Gunveen Bacher from North Carolina, USA had attended many spiritual workshops and conferences in the past. She is also teaches anapanasati meditation in the city of Raleigh, where she lives. During the seven-day retreat at PVI she experienced peace, calmness and stillness. ‘And now that feeling remains in me all the time,’ she says. ‘No-one can take that away from me, ever,’ she adds in exaltation.