From the book Hand to Hand
John’s Road to Healing – Siddha Yoga
After receiving my mastership, I had three more experiences which enriched my road to healing.
Being born overseas and living abroad for my first ten years, I was comfortable thinking about other countries, and interested in other ways of living and being. I explored the Hindu method of working with mantras. With a friend in 1981, I practiced Siddha Yoga at an ashram near Oakland. The experience surprised me because the group sang in Sanskrit with the women sitting separate from the men. These bells and whistles didn’t remind me of any religious experience, but I was interested in the calm and peacefulness that people who practice Siddha Yoga seemed to exhibit. To stay alert on long auto trips, I started to sing the popular mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” to keep me awake.
In 1983, I taught a couple of Reiki workshops in State College, Pennsylvania. I stayed with a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University who practiced with Swami Rama, an Indian yogi master, with an ashram in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. I had read about Swami Rama in a book called, Beyond Biofeedback by Elmer and Alyse Green. They recounted how Swami Rama used two types of mantras, one to elicit a peaceful state and the other to elicit an excitatory state. The Greens described how Swami Rama used the power of thought to move an object suspended by a string several feet away. He would begin to mutter an excitatory mantra to himself the day before, to prepare for this.
I went to the ashram for a week’s vacation from traveling around the country giving workshops. It was a peaceful, gentle ashram that did a lot of yoga. I was only peripherally interested, but I did practice yoga.