Interview with Linda Hawkings
Linda Hawkings was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2000 by Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji in London. Linda worked in business/marketing management at IPC Magazines for 20 years. She was a university lecturer in Business Studies and worked as a freelance Marketing Consultant. Linda retrained to become a homoeopathic practitioner.
Welcome Linda! What attracted you to Kriya Yoga in the first place?
As with most people, after reading “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Four of us had read it and were just amazed by the miracles that unfolded throughout the pages. Then in the year 2000, we saw an advert on the inside front cover of “South East London Connections”, of a monk who was coming to London to initiate people into Kriya Yoga. We felt so much love emanating from this photo that we signed up straight away.
Could you tell us about your initiation?
Once inside the large hall that engulfed the people present, one of my friends commented that she wanted Prajnananandaji to initiate her and not Swami Shuddhananda who was also present. In the event, Shuddhanandaji initiated the friend who didn’t want him to, while the rest of us were initiated by Guruji! Later we reflected……God teaches us lessons in many different ways which we only understand later – hopefully. At that programme, Prajnananandaji’s energy seemed to me, to be most powerful and highly electric. I thought at the time, “don’t come near me, I could burn up!” It is most memorable – even today some 20 years later!
What happened afterwards?
At that time, the explanation of the technique was minimal. So for several weeks after, the four of us met up regularly, to discuss the sequence of it, and to analyse why we were doing what, in the order we were given. We wanted to try and understand the reason for the procedure, as well as how it impacted on the physical body. Two of the friends were cranial osteopaths. We also had some help from David Green, attending his weekly meditations regularly in Hampstead. Here we were often blessed by the presence of Shuddhanandaji. It was at one of these meditations guided by Swamiji, that we were told to inhale to the fontanelle….and I waited and waited thinking, he’s making us hold our breath a long while. But no ‘exhale‘ was forthcoming and no further guidance. Swamiji was in paravastha long, long before we arrived there – that’s if we ever did get there at all in those days!
Did you meet Paramahamsa Hariharananada?
Yes, the first time I met Baba was during his birthday celebrations at Homestead, Miami, in 2001. The four of us who had been initiated the previous November, wanted to find out and learn more about Kriya – the technique, the lineage of monks and in particular Gurudev and Guruji (although we didn’t call them that then!). Apart from reading The Bhagavad Gita in the Light of Kriya Yoga, we knew very little about Baba Hariharanandaji.
Soon after we arrived at the ashram from our motel, a short ride away, we opted to see Baba for a one-to-one blessing. Entering his room with some apprehension, there seemed to me to be a latent but powerful presence hanging in the air. Immediately I knelt down and was told to come closer. I put the fruit where he pointed and handed him the donation. I think my jaw must have dropped as he placed the dollar bills under his pillow! Baba asked me a few questions about when and where I had been initiated and by whom, and said that as I was a very new disciple I should keep meditating regularly. Then he was silent, and that silence told me that my time was up, that I was dismissed. However one of my friends actually was told by Baba to sit on his bed! A later reflection – whatever we project out we get back in some way!
What were your impressions of Gurudev?
My first impressions of Baba were conflicting. He could be very stern, strict and commanding and then some minutes later, kind, loving and beautifully childlike while at other times, seemingly not in the physical world but somewhere else. For me, an example that highlighted these contrasts was when he demonstrated about breath, and where in, or on the head to concentrate. He would sometimes place his hand above his head, quite daintily, with finger and thumb a few millimetres apart, indicating short breath and smile sweetly, but then soon after would strike his fist rigorously against his head many, many times which made a knocking sound. I found him fascinating and, initially, that was the attraction – not being able to fathom him out.
Most days, we all followed Baba around the garden and every so often he would stop, giving us the chance to bow down and touch his feet. On one occasion when I looked into his eyes, which were steady and still with a concentrated but distant gaze, it felt as though he was surveying the whole of my energetic body – both this life and every other! There is a phrase in English, ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ meaning hidden, dark secrets. I felt that Baba had not only opened the cupboards but also the drawers and dusted through every corner to unearth each one of my negative traits! At first I found it most unnerving but soon after, liberating, in the sense that I had nothing more to hide from him. I felt that my life was like an open book. All had been revealed but there was no judgment.
One late afternoon, Baba was giving a talk when ‘the heavens opened’. It became dark, thunder crashed incessantly and the streaks of lightning seemed to be overhead as they were so exceptionally bright. And the monsoon-like rain pounded on the portable marquee, which was erected as an extension hall for meditation, for use during programmes. I remember thinking: If it had been stage-managed the timing could not have been more perfect. Then I thought, in the nicest possible way: But perhaps it was stage-managed! For me, the occasion seemed so very dramatic, as though God was drawing attention to the commands of one of His representatives here on earth.
On another day, Baba was guiding a long, open-eye meditation. I daren’t blink for fear he would draw attention to my failing – as he often did to many of us. Suddenly a pale pink narrow band of light appeared around his body and beyond this a much larger outer brilliant bright blue hue. I thought – wow! I was in awe. I felt that I was looking at a very special being. I was mesmerized, and that drew me back to see him the following year.
Any special stories from that year?
No, not really. Much later after Baba left his body, Baba became a benign, fatherly-figure to whom I call upon whenever or for whatever reason, especially if I have any health issues, however small. By the way, Baba was a practitioner of homoeopathy. I continued to visit Miami and continued for many years meditating, most days, twice a day, and was initiated into the higher Kriyas. I visited the Tattendorf ashram near Vienna annually to see Guruji, and also the ashram in Balighai, India, for a few weeks for some years. I especially enjoyed the Intensive Seminar in January and also those occasions when I sat in during the Brahmachari training courses.
This later apparent relationship with Baba only came about a few years after he left his body. Sometimes I think, is all of this a figment of imagination? Possibly. But it really doesn’t matter. All I know is that for me, it seems to work.
And then one day many years later, I felt that I didn’t need to practice the technique anymore. It was getting in the way of the stillness of my meditation……………………
Linda what advice would you give to Kriyavans who are more recently initiated?
I would say, think of why you wanted to be initiated in the first place. Whatever your purpose, major changes won’t happen overnight, or even in months, and in some cases – as with me – it can take years. It depends on how committed and dedicated you are to that purpose and to your meditation. However with determination, you will see small changes and these will gradually increase. Certainly there will be more inner calmness and peace, a positive shift in attitudes and outlook, an expansion of awareness, and more ‘inclusiveness’ as the heart opens. So, my advice – don’t give up! Keep meditating regularly and monitor yourself to see what has changed!
Linda, thank you very much for sharing your memories.