I have to be honest, I have been giving way too much importance to Atma Kriya Yoga. Even though I am a Simply Meditation teacher and an OM Chanting organizer as well as an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher, when someone approaches me to learn meditation, I immediately offer Atma Kriya Yoga first and foremost. I recently realized that this was a big mistake and here is why.
There has been an unspoken attitude amongst many teachers that Atma Kriya Yoga is superior to the other practices in Bhakti Marga Sadhana. I am guilty of this as well even though over the past 5 years I have had numerous examples and have heard true stories from people telling me that the other practices in BM Sadhana are extremely powerful as well.
Here are three stories that will tell you about the power of the other practices other than Atma Kriya Yoga.
Simply Meditation helped someone with Adult ADHD
I taught a Simply Meditation course a couple of years ago and a friend of mine from my professional circle joined the course. Two years after that course, I was catching up with her and she told me how the Trinity Meditation from Simply Meditation was a crucial part of her morning ritual and she couldn’t start her day without it.
As someone with an overactive mind who was then later diagnosed with adult ADHD, this shows how powerful Simply Meditation was in helping her. For her, where she was in life, Simply Meditation was perfect and no other practice would have been as good a fit.
This was an important step on her spiritual path because, during the time she was practising Simply Meditation daily, she was going through a major transformation in her professional life. She was standing out as an entrepreneur and launching her company to a global audience. The grounding that Simply Meditation gave her was crucial for her journey at that time.
Anything more, like Atma Kriya Yoga, might have been too much for her. The gentleness and depth of Simply Meditation was what she needed to ground her.
Atma Kriya Yoga was not right for someone with Depression
Another story is of another woman who contacted me about learning Atma Kriya Yoga. I immediately agreed to teach her, excited to be able to share my love of Atma Kriya Yoga with another person. Because she approached me with Atma Kriya Yoga, I didn’t bother double-checking whether Atma Kriya Yoga was indeed the best practice for her.
After starting the course, I learned that she had a long history of depression and that the first few techniques in Atma Kriya Yoga were triggering her condition and making them much worse. I had to immediately stop teaching the course for her safety and also as a part of my responsibility.
Looking back, I wish I had asked myself, Is this person ready for Atma Kriya Yoga?
I know it is not always easy to know the answer to this, and in such a scenario, I recommend talking about it with one of your teacher trainers or getting advice from a Bhakti Marga Swami on the topic. They have a different level on intuition and experience dealing with people in various stages of their spiritual journey and they will have a better idea of where someone is and what they are ready for.
OM Chanting changed my life
The third story is about my own journey and the part that OM Chanting played in it. I had moved from London to Australia at the beginning of 2014. When I first moved to Australia my priorities were my relationship, my social life, my living standard, the nightlife, and my social standing. By the time I left Australia one year later, I was almost ready to live a much simpler life and renounce the “outer world” preferring to focus within instead.
At the beginning of that year, I was drinking often and by the end of the year, I completely quit drinking alcohol. I went from being in the world to retreating from it completely (for better or for worse). I went through an extreme transformation and it is because of the fact that I was consistently attending OM Chanting circles every single week for almost 11 months.
It’s important to note that not everyone has the same intensity in their personal transformation as I did but it is a fact that I went through a significant transformation every single time I participated in OM Chanting.
You are not the same person as when you started a circle as after it is over, and this is true every single time you attend an OM Chanting, whether it is your first time or your 365th time. So for me, OM Chanting was the perfect sadhana practice at the time that helped me deal with the specific challenges I was facing at that point on my spiritual journey.
What you can do to respect another person’s spiritual path
As a teacher, you must do your due diligence. I know it is easy to get excited about the idea of having a new student and to be able to share what you love, your sadhana, but put yourself second. Put the other person first and focus on their needs and their path. This is about them, not about you.
Another thing you can do is respect the other practices in BM Sadhana. Guruji wouldn’t have given them if they were not important. Openly consider the other practices equally and ask yourself which one would suit the person in front of you the best.
As a devotee and practitioner, you have to remember that everyone is not the same as you and each person is in a unique point in their own spiritual journey. What is right for you is not right for them.
As Guruji said, you should not be afraid of sharing your spiritual beliefs with others and don’t be shy about it. Be careful however of prescribing the same “medicine” as you take, i.e. your unique set of spiritual practices, to others because it might not be right for them. They have to walk their own path and will come upon the exact sadhana practices that are right for them at a certain point in their journey.
I want to end with this. In my experience, our Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda is the most accommodating Guru because he allows so much room for individuality. He truly loves each person for who they are and he gives each person lots of room to express themselves and their own unique shade of devotion in their own way.
As a teacher and a devotee, you can extend this to others by respecting where they are in their spiritual journeys and serving them through the sadhana practices that are right for them for where they are on their path at the moment.