First off, India is amazing. We had spectacular views of the sunrise from our rooms every morning and there was an almost constant symphony of birds in the air.
Seeing Swamiji for the first time in person is a very humbling experience. So much grace. So much power. So much undeniable Divinity. Every move he makes is perfection. Every word he speaks flows so beautifully. During the first darshan (we had one every night) I took the opportunity to give him a letter to express my gratitude (my comment to him about how 'tricky' he was to get me to India made him give a big laugh!) and I spent at least ten seconds staring deeply into his eyes, which I was told not to miss. It was something I'll never, ever forget. It was like staring into eternity. That night, when I got back to my room, I went into the bathroom to wash my face and looked into the mirror. To my surprise, it looked like Swamiji's eyes were staring right back at me! It was like my eyes had changed to the shape and color (a little lighter brown than mine) of his eyes. I think my eyes are back to their regular shape/color now, but for awhile I felt imprinted with a part of Swamiji. That experience in itself was worth the trip!
I'm not going to lie. The Inner Awakening program is intense! We were up at 4 am EVERY morning, two yoga sessions a day, barely any free time, lots of classes to work on our patterns, and finishing off with darshan and dinner every night. In bed around 10 or 11pm. It can be emotionally draining and past attendees were right to warn me that the Master/disciple relationship is heaven, but the disciple/disciple relationship can be hell! Everyone came with their own problems and ego's and I definitely had to remind myself a few times that I was there to connect with Swamiji and nothing else mattered. Not to say that it wasn't fun, of course! I made so many new friends from all around the world and heard so many amazing stories. I was little worried about how I would be received as a black person in India, but my worries were blown way out of proportion. The love of the Indian people touched my heart deeply. By the end of the program we were all kissing each other and saying 'I love you'!
The program content is deep, all encompassing, and a little difficult to explain, but some of the highlights for me were the meditation where we literally experienced death (Swamiji promised us after the meditation that we all will have peaceful, painless deaths and He will be there when we die to guide us into the next realm), past life regression (I saw myself as a Native Canadian, or maybe Native American, baby), an all night meditation where we sat from about 10pm to 4am without sleeping and it felt like only 2 hours, having all of my karma destroyed by Swamiji, and participating in homa's (sacred ceremonies) for the health, wealth, and wish fulfillment of me and my blood family members. My absolute favorite part of the program was doing pada pudja (devotion) every day directly to Swamiji. I absolutely love saying the Sanskrit versus and feeling free to express my gratitude to Him and all other ascended masters.
I truly wish that every person in this world can attend this program at least once. It's challenging at times, but the feeling of complete lightness and bliss that you feel afterwards is more than worth it. You can't get the experience anywhere else in the world, that I know of.
I used to hear people talk about IA and think that it wasn't for me. Why would I go to India? Am I spiritual enough to go? Do I deserve to spend three weeks in India? How can afford it? How can I tell my boss and friends and family that I'm taking off to spend three weeks in India with an enlightened Master? They're going to think I'm nuts! But truly, every fear, every obstacle, every doubt that I had was destroyed by Swamiji once I gave Him my complete trust. All I can tell you guys is GO! Take the leap. Attending IA creates an umbilical cord between you and the Master. Whenever you need him, He will be there. I'm already experiencing it. Nithyanandam!