assimilation

By Eesha Sardesai

words

I’ve always found this to be a fascinating term, assimilation, the very sound of it—the sliding together of the “s” and “m” and “l” in the English word—emulating the process it describes. Assimilation is a melding, an incorporation, an absorption of something new so that the character of whatever we began with is changed, transformed, enhanced.

I’ll admit: the biggest reason I find assimilation to be of interest is that it’s something Gurumayi has long emphasized the importance of in Siddha Yoga sadhana. Gurumayi has taught that assimilation is integral to every practice we do on the Siddha Yoga path, that it is intrinsic to the very culture of this path. I can think of countless examples of this (and no doubt many of you will be able to as well!). Take, for instance, how Gurumayi has introduced a few minutes of meditation following the recitation of Shri Guru Gita, so that we can assimilate the benefits of this practice. Or how Gurumayi has given the guidance that there be a momentary pause—a brief respite—between successive elements of a satsang so that with each element, we have time to assimilate what we have learned and experienced. Gurumayi has also taught that in our day-to-day lives, we would do well to take a short pause before moving from one task to the next; in this way, our mind and body are processing the events of our day as they happen, and we’re more able to collect ourselves and be fully present for each new task.

In the world at large, assimilation—particularly the assimilation of ideas—refers to the process by which we incorporate new information into our existing bank of knowledge. It’s how we continue to build on that knowledge; it’s how we refine our skills, broaden our perspective, and arrive at a worldview that is hopefully more expansive and empathetic.

In the context of Siddha Yoga sadhana, the “new information” we are assimilating includes our experiences of the Siddha Yoga practices and the insights that arise from our study of Gurumayi’s teachings. The knowledge we gain as a result is multifaceted in its nature: it is most certainly intellectual, and it is also more broadly experiential (it is visual, auditory, kinesthetic). When we assimilate the teachings and practices, we let them become intuitive to our entire being; we acquire greater wisdom of both the brain and body, a keener and more nuanced discernment of what it means to be in touch with our own Self and how we can continually readjust, recalibrate, so that we sustain and act from that inner connection.

Gurumayi recently shared with me an analogy that she has given to people when explaining assimilation. She has said that assimilation is like a system of drip irrigation, whereby water is brought literally in drips to the roots of plants. This is a much more effective method for watering plants than, say, simply hosing them down; after all, there is only so much water that the plants can take in and retain at one time.

Another analogy has to do with eating: if you eat too much and too often, or if you insist on eating only foods that are rich and heavy, you are bound to have trouble with digestion. If you overdo it while exercising, attempting to run ten miles before you’ve ever successfully completed one, you risk injury. And if you’re studying for a big exam and trying to cram a semester’s worth of lessons into one night, your brain will, at some point, revolt, unable and unwilling to process the deluge of information coming its way. People often speak of burnout; what is this if not the consequence of trying to accomplish more than you have time to process and assimilate?

You will find that a similar principle applies in Siddha Yoga sadhana. For the teachings to take root, for the wisdom they hold to become a part of your modus operandi, they must be assimilated, in increments and on a continual basis. Hence Gurumayi’s guidance to pause between elements of a satsang or at different points in the day; hence Gurumayi’s teachings to focus on and continually return to the breath. In the breath, you find rest, an inherent moment of pause, and you can reacquaint yourself with the natural rhythm of your being.

The effort required of you for assimilation is subtle, yet its rigor should not be underestimated. On the one hand, you can’t force assimilation—you can’t muscle it into happening, not with your mind or with your body. On the other hand, assimilation necessitates a particular kind of awareness, a focus on the new information you’re assimilating and a sensitivity to how that new information jibes with, contradicts, or confounds what you may have understood to be true up to this point. With a watchful eye, and a mind that is at once alert and at ease, you must support the process of assimilation as it takes its course.

As you do so, what might you use as a focus and aid?

Two things: music and fragrance. Gurumayi has taught that in both music and fragrance, we find a means of cementing understanding. I’m sure that many of you, like me, will find immediate resonance in this wisdom. Think, for example, of all the songs that you’ve come to associate with certain people, places, or events. Think of all the memories that you have bound up in a particular scent.

On this page you will find music to support you in assimilating the Siddha Yoga teachings. The choice of music is, of course, key. Depending on the type of music you’re listening to, you might be better primed to think or to relax; you might feel energized or gradually drawn within. The music that is here is well-suited to the kind of gentle yet focused activity you’ll be engaging in.

I’ll tell you a bit more about what you’ll be hearing. It’s the song “Such a Great Attainment” from the album Remembrance, which is a collection of piano improvisations by Kenny Werner. Kenny is a longtime Siddha Yogi and a masterful pianist who has played in innumerable Siddha Yoga satsangs. I have often felt, when listening to Kenny’s music, that I’m hearing more than just the notes from his piano; I feel that I’m hearing his love for music, and his love for the Siddha Yoga path.

As you play this beautiful song, surround yourself with a scent that is pleasing to you. You might, for example, rub on or diffuse a few drops of fragrant oil, or light some incense. Then take some time to recall some of the many Siddha Yoga teachings and practices you have engaged with since January 2021.

I hope that as you sit quietly and remember the trove of wisdom you’ve received and studied, you experience the music washing over you like a cascade. I wish for you to let the melodies and harmonies soothe your mind as you allow thoughts and images to surface. And I encourage you to observe what comes up for you with genuine curiosity. Suspend any judgment, and instead, see where your exploration takes you.

If you feel so inclined, you may record your observations in a journal. I find that there is always value in articulating my experiences, in crystallizing my understanding in words as it continues to develop. You too might find this to be useful, and as you note down your observations, you might notice that you are better able to identify how your understanding and outlook have shifted over the last several weeks and months of your sadhana.

You can do this kind of assimilation as many times as you wish, and if you own a copy of Remembrance (or would like to purchase it in the Siddha Yoga Bookstore), you may enjoy selecting different tracks to play at different times.

footer