I am created by Divine Light
I am sustained by Divine Light
I am protected by Divine Light
I am surrounded by Divine Light
I am ever growing into Light.
This is the Divine Light mantra given to Swami Radha on February 2, 1956, the day of her initiation into sanyas. Following her initiation by her guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, Swami Radha walked to the ruins of a nearby temple, found a shelter and began to meditate. In this meditation, the holy man, Babaji, came to her and taught her the Divine Light Invocation – a practice to help others and to break the habit of thinking of oneself as either the mind or the body.
Swami Radha writes: “…Words cannot describe what happened. My mind went beyond experience, and the body and personality of Swami Sivananda Radha were left behind, sitting in the tippled tower amidst the sand and rocks.” (The Divine Light Invocation, p. 20)
How did I come to learn about Swami Radha and the Divine Light Invocation? It’s a bit of a story and it’s the only way I know how to answer this. In 2004, following my first breast cancer diagnosis, I began to attend the Healing Journey program, created and led by Dr. Alastair Cunningham at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto – a program offering tools and methods to help one become a ‘healed person’.
What is “healing” really? It’s a complex question whose answer might surprise. For me, the response has transitioned from a perceived superficial response – ‘a healed body of course!’ – to an understanding and desire for deep spiritual healing. The process of ‘healing versus curing’ deserves more time and space – further reflections will follow in the days to come.
Over the course of the weekly Healing Journey groups I’ve attended since 2004 (with the exception of the three years I lived at Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia), we often read from Swami Radha’s books. I always appreciated her words and teachings as I did those of the many spiritual teachers that we studied.
In August 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer – for the third time. Over a period of six years this is what I experienced: five surgeries, two courses of radiation, two courses of chemotherapy and a complete thyroidectomy. Then one day during the winter of 2011, a thought popped into my mind – a knowing - that I needed to go to Yasodhara Ashram. Up to this moment I had known of the Ashram but had no inclination to actually travel there. I called the Ashram. But my trip to the Ashram did not materialize. It just wasn’t my time.
Months later, I was feeling stronger and once again, this ‘knowing of the heart’ showed up. How could I pull this together, I wondered. Little did I know at the time but I was responding to my Divine Appointment – you know that moment when everything flows together because it was just meant to be? Yup. That’s what I experienced. What my mind thought would be really challenging turned out to be a moment of true simplicity.
I found myself at the Ashram in October 2011 as a participant in the 10 Days of Yoga and then stayed an additional 10 days to work as a Karma Yogi. After three weeks, I returned to Toronto wondering if I should commit to the three-month Yoga Development Course. I wrestled with the dilemma of leaving my mom who had her own health issues including two experiences with cancer, for what felt like a long period of time…. the ‘good daughter’ is deeply anchored in me and it was not an easy decision. But my mother encouraged me. Maybe everyone else could see what I eventually came to see for myself – the need for healing. So I stepped out of my life in Toronto into this other world.
Within days of the start of 2012, I found myself on an Air Canada flight bound for British Columbia and the Ashram. There have been many twists and turns, insights and peeling away of layers of illusion to come face to face with myself. One step led to another and I spent most of the next three years living and working at the Ashram.
This is how the Divine Light came into my life.
The Divine Light Invocation is a foundational practice at the Ashram. This practice has had a tremendous impact on me - healing on so many levels; illuminating all the dark places in my life. My experiences and choices on this transformative healing journey are what I want to share as time goes on – the path to ‘something more’ - to seeing the Light within others and myself.
The Light is always available to you, and you can make yourself available to it. The choice is up to you. Swami Radha