I always smile and tell them that I don't go for the food or the accommodations. I also tell them that I do have challenges with the heat - for instance, my feet swell and that can be uncomfortable. I choose to stay at the GC2 campus, sharing a dormitory-style room with 8-11 other women. You can hardly call that luxurious. I also tell them that poverty is relative. There are many people who don't have the material comforts of the west, but have an abundance of grace and kindness. Yet, to be honest, it is sometimes difficult to imagine living in the conditions with which some of those who are materially poor have to contend. It gives me gratitude for what we have here.
I go because my heart propels me. After I became a Oneness Blessing Giver in January 2010, every time I heard someone mention that s/he was going to Oneness University in India, a little voice inside my head said "I want to go." In March that year, Michael Clingerman mentioned at a Sunday night Blessing circle that he was preparing to go to India in two weeks. There it was again the voice saying -
"I want to go." So I spoke with him at the end of the evening to find out how one does that. He sent me to the Oneness University website. And from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., I read about the courses and completed the online application, signed up for Skype and sent e-mails to everyone I knew, asking for recommendations.
12 days later I was at Oneness University for the first time.
Despite this call of my heart, I also was confronted by my cultural conditioning, so my time there wasn't a smooth ride. But I had several profound experiences. I'll share one now and others in the weeks ahead.
We were being taken through this ancient spiritual process called Agni Sara Kriya, which fires the kundalini energy to burn off charges (residue from trauma) in one's energy field. The energy was very strong and as I went with the breathing patterns, I found myself becoming aware of a snake making its way from my belly to my throat. For a moment, I thought it was the kundalini, which moves in a serpent like motion up the spine. Then I realized it was not coming up my spine but up the front of my body and in my throat. As you might imagine, this very real feeling of a snake in my body was horrifying. I didn't know what to make of it; and quite frankly I was to embarrassed to mention it, while others shared their beautiful mystical experiences the next day in class.
After class the following day, I went to one of the senior guides Kumarji and asked why there was a snake in my belly. My distrust wanted me to believe that these people were doing something bad to me. At first Kumarji said he didn't know. But I demanded an answer - What was that? Kumarji gently replied, "Maybe you had a trauma with snakes in your childhood."
Moments later, my mind was flooded with the images from when I was four years old. I was living in Mississippi with my grandparents on their farm. They had gone to pick cotton and sat me on a tree stomp around the bend instructing me to stay there until they returned. While I sat on that stomp, a snake began slithering in my direction. I was so frightened, I jumped down and ran to my grandmother. When they went back to kill it, the snake was gone.
Snakes were everywhere on their farm. In the tall grass, one had to walk through to get to the outhouse. In the chicken coop looking for eggs. My grandmother was said to be such a markswoman that she could kill a snake without breaking an egg. Mind you, I am not advocating killing snakes, just sharing the way it was then.
I was so traumatized by these experiences that when I was growing up, if a person mentioned the word snake, or I saw a picture of one in a magazine or book, I would have nightmares about snakes that night.
During Agni Sara Kriya, that trauma was released from my body in the Oneness Temple. Thanks to Sri Amma Bhagavan, the Oneness Guides, and the Oneness Temple for creating the right conditions for me to let go of this snake trauma.