The Isha Institute of Inner Sciences welcomed 280 excited participants from as far away as Wales for a four-day Bhava Spandana Program led by Sadhguru from 16 to 19 May 2008. BSP, although always an intense program, was perhaps even more electric this time for many participants and volunteers as it followed directly on the heels of the seven-day In the Presence of the Master Sathsang. Still elated from the week with Sadhguru, volunteers has one day to clean, transform, and prepare the space for BSP after the sathsang ended.
As the first day of the program coincided with the official release date of the new book Midnights with the Mystic, participants had the opportunity to use computer terminals to purchase the book in hopes of propelling it onto the New York Times bestseller list. Excitement was high as book counts were tallied, friends and family were encouraged to buy the book, and conversations tried to gauge whether this book could be the catalyst to America's transformation.
The Mahima site, which has been cleared and prepared for the soon-to-be-built circular dome, held what was almost certainly the last tent used as a program hall at IIIS. Volunteers worked hard to keep wind and rain out of the tent and poured gravel over the slippery, muddy roads and paths. Fortunately the weather turned warm and sunny by the second full day, and tables were moved out of the dining tent and relocated in front of the lodges, under a canopy of fresh spring leaves.
Sadhguru guided participants through four jam-packed days that left no one unchanged. "It was like nothing I've ever experienced before. It woke me up to parts of myself that I'd never paid attention to before. I feel like my energy is different now," said one participant. "I always understood that we are all one, theoretically. But when I came to experience it, and see that the oneness is actually love…it's just overwhelming," said another. Another shared, "I really opened up. The most amazing part for me was seeing people just as they are - the same as myself. It made me realize I wasn't really looking at them before."
Participants took part in meditations and other processes that led to intense experiences and transformation. One participant told the story of a moment in the program where she let out a scream. "It wasn't just a scream; it was about sending this part of me into the space. When I was finished, it was gone - the feeling of all that fear and anxiety and uncertainty." Another shared, "I felt I could see through everyone. It seemed so transparent that we are all made of the same stuff. And at a certain moment I thought, this is me. I had no past, no future, this was it - and in that moment I was truly me."
Volunteers, who numbered almost 200, had an equally powerful weekend. One volunteer, who had not attended or volunteered at any Isha program in many years, found BSP to be a totally different experience this time around. A volunteer who came all the way from Germany was amazed at how much deeper the meditations were from his first BSP. "I was surprised at myself, at how much I could do if I just pushed myself. And seeing Sadhguru give so much made me feel like, 'who the hell am I, being so lazy?' It motivated me to dedicate myself to my practices more," he said. Another volunteer, who was quite ill for most of the program, was pushed to take an inward journey and examine why she was there and how she could truly volunteer without activity.
The volunteers were thrilled to have a special Sathsang with Sadhguru on Sunday morning. He answered a few questions, including one about his trip back to Mysore in February, and urged everyone attending to truly examine why he or she had come to the program. He stressed the importance, as the Center continues to grow, that everyone comes for the right reason, so that at least this one space should remain pure for everyone to use.
This BSP saw the first few performances of a fledgling music team that one of the Isha teachers said is "an attempt to start our own Sounds of Isha here in the US." The tones of violin, tablas, keyboard, guitar, djembe, and vocals blended in an effort to express and share their overwhelming love, awe, and gratitude with Sadhguru and the participants.
The last day ended on an especially high note as Sadhguru explained that it was Buddha Purnima and invited all outside for a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for Mahima. Participants milled around afterwards, basking in the glow of their newfound awareness. "I'm not afraid anymore. I'm feeling a lot of love. I feel as if I can include everyone in my existence, in myself," said one, eyes shining. Another said, "I was expecting it to be transforming, but to have my whole being surgically removed and laid out for everyone to see, including myself, and then put back together - I had no idea… I have always tried to live life to the fullest but this has taken it to a new realm for me. I hope I can spread it to everyone, my family. If they don't have to go through pain and suffering like I did for years and years, what a gift that would be."