Integrating Breathwork with Advaita

Over the past 2 weeks I was the busiest that I have been in the last 9 months since I left my job. I’m wondering now if 9-month is my ‘official incubation time’ for any project because it certainly seems like a cycle. As I got called to arrange a talk, then a workshop and seminars for Leonard Orr and his group that were visiting my hometown, Pune, I saw even more of spirituality in practice in myself than ever before.

I had never wanted to be an organiser. I ‘happened’ to be hanging around Erik Berglund 3-4 years back when I was asked if I would arrange a workshop for him in Pune. I said “Yes” without thinking. That was when it started. A few months ago, when I started taking this organising stuff a bit seriously, I ran into all sorts of trouble. When I stepped back, the best I could deduce from it was that if it happens, it happens. If I try to get into the doership of it, it just feels terrible and non-fun.

This time I got a call from one of my friends who had just met Leonard at a place near Pune asking me if I was willing to organise a talk. I again said “Yes” excited that I was going to get to meet him. After hanging up I realised that I had told myself I shall not organise anything for anyone. I didn’t have the heart to call back and say that I didn’t want to do it. So I went ahead. Everything was last minute. I had to follow my intuition all the way through right from picking the venue to the amounts to be paid to each stakeholder to asking the angels for help in planning a setup, not knowing what would be preferred by Leonard since I had no direct access to him. Everything flowed smoothly with just a few hiccups. There was disappointment from an unrelated party that was promptly vented out to me and I also came to terms with my judgments.

For a few weeks (or maybe months) I was in the space of the thought – “I have no value“. Under the weight of this thought I dragged myself out of bed the morning after the talk to “show up” for a workshop Leonard was conducting almost next door to where I live. Soon, dynamics of a week-long workshop and seminars were worked out and I found myself running again, taking quick decisions based on my intuition. In hindsight, as I reflect on it, I congratulate myself for getting the number of people I had promised from my end, getting the logistics worked out for one of the seminars and showing up inspite of the repeated bashing up my mind did with me. By the end of the seventh day, I felt my feet touch a kind, soft, gentle earth within me. How grateful I feel now, as I assimilate all of this, for having courage, speaking my truth, ignoring my demeaning thoughts, staying true to my feelings, and remembering GD‘s wisdom that don’t get attached to any experience that some technique or teacher gives you. Just remember that only awareness is real. A week prior he had read an extract from Nisargadatta Maharaj‘s book, I am That, which I used as an anchor:

Things happen around me. I take no part in it. Event becomes an experience only when I am emotionally involved. I am in a state which is complete. Of what use is experience to me?

I am glad I did. It helped me to not get swayed by the strong energies of people around me, to stop expecting grand realisations or insights from any of the sessions I underwent; it also taught me to use my emotions as a pointer to when I am getting attached.

Another lesson for me was the polarity of emotions. After I had attended a workshop last year, a participant told me what a drama queen I am for crying so much. It shut me down to expressing my emotions openly and I secretly started shunning my emotions thinking that all emotion was drama. During this week, I went to the depth of it. A large part of it was triggered weeks before this workshop when GD appreciated me for not wanting to hang on to drama even though at that time I was very emotional. This week gave me the stillness to integrate that and learn that being emotional is okay.

As my acceptance of emotions got clearer, I realised that even if I am emotional, I can be sincere and not be acting from drama. I have still to clarify this with GD but I have a suspicion now that emotion may or may not be linked to drama. Not all emotions point to the truth and not all emotions may lead to drama. For now, I am willing to sit in the awareness of this doubt rather than clearing it. This decoupling made it possible to convey my ‘truth’ to others. At one point I felt terrible for not having taken care of one of the participants who, on the last day, told me that she was greatly inconvenienced by the facilities and even unknowingly discouraged her friend who was planning to attend the next week that was to follow. It brought me back to the awareness that I can atleast speak the truth as lovingly as I can. My old pattern was to be silent and never talk to that person again. Here again, GD’s invaluable teaching came like a sharp sword, “Don’t go negative on the relationship”, he had said. “On this path of awareness things are bound to get triggered and come up for all sides. Stay as open and aware as you can”. It was hard to put this into action and I did manage to not make an enemy out of anyone, including myself, for the unfolding of the situation. Ultimately, the other person also seemed to have got it. She worked out the situation for the next week for herself and got her friend to give the workshop a try for a day. It all ended well and I was thoroughly grateful.

Another learning happened when one of the participants was terrified of breathing in the course of a session and wanted someone to give her energy through ‘external means’ such as Reiki. She was promptly told by one of the Breathworkers to trust her breath and to continue breathing. It made me aware of how much we are willing to put trust in our gurus, our teachers, our mentors, crystals or else, except our own divine breath, divine energy that breathes equal life in us. I also saw her using an external means to put herself in an energy shield and wondered if one really needs to do that, or just by intention and trust one can put a protective shield around oneself while healing others.

As the week with Leonard came to an end, there were more insights. I had mentally told myself almost a month ago that someday I would like to attend a workshop with him when I can pay the 1008$ that are charged for his workshops. It was therefore incredible Grace that I could not only attend the workshop for free, but also get paid for it. I simply credit that to Mahavatar Babaji (no manifestation techniques involved here) whose presence I have learned to invoke before every Breathwork session I give or receive. I also had a few judgments against Leonard before I even met him – some positive and some not so positive. Towards the end, I found myself shopping for books with him in the most crowded areas of Pune, laughing and sharing Starbucks coffee with him, fixing internet connectivity issues with him to proposing the figures for the workshop and a seminar topic. On the last day, there was one minute of total silence in the room when, in the presence of many people, after saying goodbye to him, there was a minute of unbroken eye contact between us. What transpired I don’t know. I was just moved and grateful. I saw Life’s love for me. This time I had the maturity to not ask why I am so loved. The judgments had lost their energy and I just felt love for him. In hindsight, I realised I am being taught to let go of the high expectations I put on people (and more so on myself).

Rebirthing-Breathwork 7/9-Day Training Program Attendees (Week 1)

Towards the end of the second week, when a “new” workshop was organised for 5 days with one of the trainers, there was a lot of exhaustion, mismatch of expectation and bonding. My mother had advised me to never start a project with a “No, I don’t want to do this“-feeling or thought. I had that since day one. This time again I just pushed myself telling that it was just one more week. In a lot of ways, I lost the will to organise. My personal issues came up that went unaddressed by the trainer and I felt dejected. What pulled me through was detaching myself from my own expectation that as an organiser I needed to be present at the workshop all the time and that I have to be in a giving space all through. Thankfully I didn’t lose my temper and found that I was letting go more easily. 🙂 This was a real biggie! I took the time out instead to bond with the youngsters and the middle aged Maharashtrian aunties who were just awesome in their motherly care and attention at the workshop! I loved seeing them extend their identities from being housewives to beautiful women who were delighted to live for themselves! It brought me in touch with my love for Breathwork, because it only involves one language – Breath. It again made me conscious of detaching the teacher and his/her personality with what is being taught.

Lastly, I realised how rotten this whole new age spiritual quest to fix, transform, getting better is. This is the update I put up on Facebook that says it all:

Wisdom is knowing things firsthand. Today when so many things are learnt and picked up sitting in a healing/spirituality workshop in five-star hotels and clubs, everything feels like junk because so little has been distilled and applied in day to day practical life. Even less so hardly anything has proved permanence. During this Breathwork retreat, where the mantra is learn by doing, the knowledge was of no use at all in the face of cellular release. I thought I really did know it all – every workshop, every seminar seemed “known”. But walking Pune’s old city shopping street, Appa Balwant Chowk, with Leonard Orr, searching for English translations of Shiva Purana, and works of Bhrartahari, it was a glaring realisation that Indian spirituality has got so lost in the heavy onslaught of “new age spirituality”. Really grateful to Leonard for telling the bookseller when he handed the English translation of “Niti, Shrungar and Vairagya” that he has given him something more precious than gold. Maybe we do need an American stamp for Indians to value the wisdom lying in their own backyard. Withdrawing from this “new age” gold rush and seeking the gold in Indian roots. Maybe the Masters have been deliberately kind that even though they grant me no third eye darshans, they give me enough homework to turn within and explore all this firsthand within me first, and turning ordinary life to gold. Thank you.

And yet had it not been for this quest, I would’ve probably not sought out something that would give me lasting benefit. Now I am re-routing into the “old age” – sitting one hour everyday learning to light up fire, learning to soak into Water consciously, learning to Breathe and cleanse out my own system – perhaps the way a Himalayan yogi does. But this time I am doing it as consciously as I can without a goal – playfully, with awareness. This Sunday, GD read a the following lines from Maharaj that were my saving Grace:

There is trouble only when you cling to something. When you hold on to nothing, no trouble arises. The relinquishing of the lesser is the gaining of the greater. Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source. In that light the world appears dimly like a dream.
~ I am That

And today I integrated them with all the understanding of immortality gathered over the past two weeks in this prayer:

“May I feel the love, the intense passion for Life so much that I never long for death again.
May I recognise, once and forever, that when I stop longing for death, I stop experiencing lack.
May I be filled with the effortless knowing that when I stop creating imaginary lack, all I am is a lover of the Divine.
May I have the courage to live that only as a lover of the Divine, I am alone, for there is no world except for fleeting reflections.
May I have the realisation that once I see even the remaining parts of the world as reflections, I am beyond this play of life and death itself” 

Thank you Life for the way it is.

Figures on Beach, La Jolla.California, Photo © David Whyte
Figures on Beach, La Jolla.California, Photo © David Whyte
crea Written by:


  1. Hughen
    October 22, 2013

    One of the most Beautifully written inward journeys I have read .

  2. g d daryani
    October 22, 2013

    It was wonderful experience for me & my son to attend just 2 days of that one of the workshop. It was a great transformational learning for both of us, just got aware to the fact that out breath has so much of power which we rarely use fully. I am grateful to you for taking care to invite, but for that, we would not have known the happening of the workshop. simultaneously my 3 other collegues from Mumbai were also banefited. I must say, i was impressed with your organising skills. May God bless you always. Ghanshyam daryani

    • October 23, 2013

      I am glad you all could come down from Mumbai on such a short notice. It is your dedication to come down all the way that made the event a success Ghanshyamji. I’m glad that the core intention of having Breathwork reach as many people as it could is being met. Hope to see you again soon.
      Thank you. God Bless. Love and Light

  3. October 22, 2013

    Nice one Deepti. You write very well. And I could relate to the ‘drama vs true emotion’ aspect of the training that u mentioned since I too was around…

    Thanks for organising this one… It may turn out to be a goldmine for my quest…

    • October 23, 2013

      Thanks Bhavin. I hope it IS a goldmine for you! 🙂 Hope to see you soon again. Love and Light

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *