By Julie Bach
During a retreat one year ago to this day, my spiritual teacher turned to me and said, “You are ready.” I said, “Ready for what?” Felix Lopez, my teacher, said, “ You are ready for Sri Dharma Mittra. We have worked hard for two years to prepare you and I am excited for your next step. Let’s see what happens…”
Ten days later I was in NY getting my head shaved as part of a ceremony one of my friends hosted for my transformation. Diana was a yogini in service to her guru for 30 years. She took me in to her home to show me what life was like for her as a yogini in service. We sat in her home temple as she showed me publications and trainings she had written and marketed in service to help her teacher and to spread the teachings globally.
I am a trained businessperson and I remember asking her, “So you got paid nothing for all of this? ” I was shocked because 30 years is a long time. I was listening, perhaps for the first time, to someone who was in service and seeing the beauty that was created.
The next afternoon with a better understanding of what a life of yogini could look like, I took a train back to the city to get situated and learn from Sri Dharma Mittra during Life Of A Yogi Teacher Training.
I remember sitting there that first day introducing ourselves and listening to why people were taking training. I remember looking around and saying, “I am here because my teacher told me to be and to see what will happen next.” This is part of a transformation process is all that I know and I shaved my head last night to shed the old patterns that reside in me.”
I remember when we got our karma yoga jobs. Mine was lighting the candles and the incense and I loved doing this as an offering. I continue to do this at home alongside the picture of Sri Dharma given at the training.
The first time I saw a picture of Sri Dharma Mittra, I remember saying, “He’s the guy. He’s the guy with the silver hair I have been looking for since I was a teenager.” I was excited to see what exactly it was that I was to learn.
During training I had the opportunity to approach Sri Dharma. I did not know what to expect, but I had questions. No sooner than I had opened my mouth, Sri Dharma said, “You are here to be in service. To be in service to your teacher and to humanity. To truly realize your path, you will need to learn to become invisible.To become, nothing. To become no one.”
The words continue to ring in my head, especially during times when I see my ego getting excited about things. I step back and hear Sri Dharma.
The Life Of A Yogi Teacher Training has changed my relationship with yoga – changed my relationship with my spiritual teacher, and changed my relationship with my community.
When I do my asana practice or pranayama, I close my eyes and feel that I am back in the temple in NYC where Sri Dharma is the teacher. And when I am in service to my guru, I picture how I think Sri Dharma Mittra was in service to Yogi Gupta while he was alive in physical form — as if a roadmap had been laid before me to show me the way to humbleness and selflessness.
It has been almost one year since the training and my life is completely different.
The three governing ethical guidelines as a Sadhaka have been:
1. Cultivate an open mind regarding the Supreme Self or God.
2. Be kind and non-judgmental in all circumstances, especially when dealing with students (or students of my teacher,) and abstain always from acts of arrogance, cruelty, greed, or harshness.
3. Work constantly toward the freedom from “I” and “mine,” growing ever less concerned with name, fame, prestige or personal property.
I have built a retreat house for the local community and for the regular students of my teacher to come and study. My primary role at the retreat house starts with preparing juices and snacks for the students who come to stay and coordinating their stay. My primary role in the local community is to share my daily Dharma yoga practice. It is intended for people who want to cultivate a home practice, but may not want to practice alone.
I am most at peace in the retreat house, which feels like the temple in NYC. I am most joyful being in service in this manner. I am in service to God; I can think of no greater gift.
I remember crying at the realization of how my life has changed. How I built this center years ago and it has waited until I was ready to be of service. Until I really understood this is not about me. This is something far greater than I can imagine, something my head cannot understand.
I also have learned there is no negotiating with God. The one attempting negotiation is my ego –the one who is trying not to see my path and the one trying to make it unfold in the way that I want. But in the end, God has some big boots and will use them when needed. I have been negotiating this move to live full time in the retreat center for one year. Many things are changing, affording space to unfold. And in my moment of surrender, the retreat center had its first student call to book a private immersion.
And so it unfolds….. Ever so thankful…
Learning to be of service. Learning to fall in to nothingness. Realizing that everyone is on his or her own path. And who am I to judge or question? I am no one.
Julie Bach is on a mission to authentically integrate yoga and meditation through the spa industry. As a child, Julie was not quite aware of what she was doing as she used to “knee” around the house and quietly sink to the bottom of the pool in full lotus. And when she grew out of her childhood years, Julie had a certain restlessness to her. It was not until 2010 when she connected with her spiritual teacher, Felix Lopez, did she begin to understand this restlessness and the calming effects of yoga. Julie worked with her spiritual teacher to prepare her for the 200 hour Life of A Yogi Training with Sri Dharma Mittra. Since her first step in to the temple, she knew she was home with Dharmaji and has established a center to share this feeling with her family and her community.