Interview with Leonie Harrod
N – Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with us today. Hagen tells me that you’re quite new to Kriya, is that right?
Queensland, New Zealand, 2017
L – Yes, did my initiation last August 2021 with Baba Peter from Netherlands. Until towards the end of last year, I was living in Dubai, and while there, attended an intensive meditation certification course. I was attending yoga and meditation classes with an incredible soul called Vishal, who had a library of books. The Kriya yoga book attracted my attention even though I had practised other forms of yoga and meditation for some years.
N – So he had the book on his bookshelf and you wanted to read it?
L – Yes, he taught traditional Ashtanga classes and I really enjoyed that, there was no Kriya school in Dubai so I couldn’t learn there.
N –So did you then look online and go on to meet Peter Baba?
L – I came to the UK from Dubai, looked up Kriya UK and saw there was an initiation in August 2021. My hubby and I were travelling, and he was due to go to America but was going to be back at the time of the programme. We stayed nearby and I did my initiation in Bankside House. It was great – I felt really good about Kriya but I am also very grateful for having so much time to spend learning different types of yoga before taking it up.
N – That sounds great. It’s funny how things come to us, a lot of people tend to have a book that draws them in, lots say the Autobiography of a Yogi but for you it was a Kriya book?
L – Yes, prior to Dubai I was living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was very fortunate to connect with a beautiful soul called Shobhna, she had lots of books also. Saudi Arabia is very different to Dubai and Shobhna did not enjoy it much in Saudi Arabia. Her husband worked directly with the Crown Prince. I would go and have tea with her in the afternoon sometimes. A lot of people (ex-pats) operate very much from the ego in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, they are very much into the ex-pat lifestyle. As I worked in charity, I mixed with them as they discarded lots of useful things for the charity shop, which raised money.
Shobhna kindly lent me the Autobiography of a Yogi and I devoured it, we had quite a bit of time speaking about it, although she had learnt and practised Kriya yoga, she wasn’t able to show me, it piqued my inquisitive nature and was keen to find out more.
Auckland, New Zealand, 2017
N – And what do remember of your initiation?
L – Was very happy to be enrolled and loved the ritual around the giving, the flowers, fruits and the money, which resonated with me. It felt very good there. The room was cold and I was glad to be dressed for it as it was warmer outside. It was wonderful; I saw Peter Baba and felt he was a very caring person, he looked like he had integrity and authority. Felt very privileged to be taught by him. Hearing his story over the weekend was great where he told us about his living in India and his ashram in Netherlands. The initiation was in London at Bankside House.
N – I haven’t met Peter Baba but I have seen him online and he does look like a really nice person.
L – Yes, you could see by the way he taught that he was very informative, talking about the science of each position and the benefits to the digestive system etc. Having the information about the Royal Road was really helpful. A lot of people asked interesting questions. Some had a lot of doubt, but I knew that it was going to be a lifelong practice for me. I am a disciplined person and I felt it was easy for me to do at home rather than having to go to early morning classes.
N – Yeah, it is great when you can do the practice yourself. They also have the weekly meditation in London on Thursday of course, but it is quite far for people to travel.
L – It’s probably two hours on the train and two hours back so I might be able to go if I have a day off sometime, but, it’s quite a journey.
N – I’m not so far but I’m fortunate to have a local group to practise with – we hope to have more of these Regional Groups across the country so maybe something will pop up near you, but great that you are so disciplined that you can carry on the practice by yourself for now.
L – I’ve registered for the October 3rd intensive day so that’s the next time I’ll be getting together with everyone.
Cape Town, South Africa, 2016
N – Do you think practising yoga has benefited you in any way? I know you said you have practised for around 20 years so you are no doubt very flexible and have many of the benefits already, but do you think Kriya has added anything for you?
L – You mean the practice of Kriya? It has had immense benefits. It’s transformational. Discipline is from the soul, so to have the discipline and by not eating before the practice and honouring Divine Source, the masters, is such a good practice. Over time, Kriya yoga will open hearts and our heart energy. Earth really requires this opening en-masse of hearts and communities. Everyone has their own path and karma but we have all been called to open our heart and honour that. Kriya has sown many seeds in the physical, mental and spiritual levels. Mastering breath is, as Gurudev Hariharananda says, mastering life. A lot of people have had emotional issues and breath really works on those kinds of things. So, I feel very, very honoured and grateful to Kriya yoga even though I was already on the path, being a yogi and having discipline.
N – Yes that sounds great. It sounds to me like you are very open to anything you learn and it has added a layer to your practice. I love the idea that it opens hearts as that’s really what it’s all about. I know you said you have meditated but what sort of meditation have you done up until now?
L –The ego responds to the sensory stimuli which is external, this was studied in the meditation certification. Learnt a lot through the intensive meditation study course. It’s important to be mindful of the differences between internal and external seeking. As a child I’d sit under a tree in silence, have done this all my life.
N – And how does the difference between internal and external seeking manifest, do you think?
L – Because one is there to serve the heart-soul energy and one is there to receive and take (ego). So if it’s around food, if you’re feeding yourself incorrectly, around addictions, around listening to loud music, watching TV and distracting ourself too much. The ego is a distractive force. It’s a fallen world as more and more people are programmed to eat what they want, treat themselves to clothes, spend money on the credit card and maybe not always be honest. We can see that those things lead to suffering. This is the ego.
N – Have you found that meditation has helped you move away from the ego?
L – It teaches me to be more mindful and make more conscious choices in all areas of life. We have our work and daily life but I make more mindful choices now.
N – I think you’re right. It’s funny because sometimes you read of people who have meditated for years and some still haven’t really discovered the benefits of meditation, so we definitely have peaks and troughs but most people do get a huge amount from it. Thank you for that Leonie. And have you visited any of the ashrams or been on any retreats. Maybe you haven’t had time as you’ve only recently been initiated?
L – I’ve been to the retreat in Aylesford recently.
N – Did you enjoy the retreat?
L – Yes it was really energising and I loved doing the rounds of mahamudra. Swami Achalananda was asking us to do it seven, eight, nine, ten times. It was really brilliant!
N – You are obviously a really positive person. By the end of the day, you probably felt really calm?
L – Yes. Swami Achalananda had a knee injury so he couldn’t join in but he came anyway and he was so inspirational, with an attitude of service. His teachings were for beginners and there was a lot of wisdom there too, so he really touched upon what it meant from a holistic experiential perception.
N – I saw the photos, it looked really beautiful. Are there any occasions on your journey which has been significant for your spiritual journey?
L – I grew up in a home where we weren’t allowed to say the word ‘God’, and there was ongoing abuse on many levels. I forgave it all and forgave my parents, my siblings didn’t. I could see the impact on them, that lack of forgiveness.
Sitting under a huge oak tree in silence as a young child brought peace in the violence, I used to protect my mother a lot. I was the one who helped her leave the house as I knew I was going to leave home at an early age. I was 16 when I left and was working from age 12 after school etc. I was aware there was a spiritual force that was working with us.
I also have had dreams which can only have come from God. Many of them came true and they would often have wisdom within them, so all of those things really guided me on the spiritual path.
N – Yes sometimes you just know that it’s a personal message and you know the source.
L – Yes, I knew my siblings didn’t have any feelings or belief in God because they thought ‘why is there abuse if there’s a God?’. But studying karma I know that we all have different karma and I am grateful for my lessons and although everyone’s karma is different, we can step away from the ego and not get angry and feel self-pity. I always attempted to share my ideas of spiritual strength with my siblings, I believe we release karma over life by forgiving, being grateful, being of service etc. So just knowing there was that strength there, was helpful and also choosing not to get into victim mode.
N – It sounds like you have transcended everything that has happened to you?
L – As a child it is not easy to have a lot of abuse but a lot of things can come from it, I have learnt a lot of wisdom from it. I am grateful that I didn’t have rose-tinted glasses on like those I have seen/ & coached who have become adults, who are not equipped for the hardships and challenges that help us to grow.
N – That is a nice way of looking at it. Are your parents still alive?
L – No they died in 2010 and 2015. I lived in Australia, but would go to New Zealand on frequent trips as they both went into care homes, I had so many beautiful conversations with them over those last 12 years. When we left dad, I had to convince mum to leave, as I knew she would have been murdered. I was the only child who went back visiting Dad and we would have dinner together. I saw what it was to lose his family and we actually had some really amazing conversations when I was 12, 13, 14 up until 16 (I moved to Christchurch then). He really was just a wounded soul, who grew up in poverty and had to go to war. Speaking to mum it was incredible discovering how things were back then. And they do get close to the spiritual realm as they age; they live half there and can see things we can’t see. I would never correct them of course and tell them that these things didn’t exist.
N – They do say that don’t they? and they also say that when people are about to pass over, they get an energetic lift, like they get a bit excited about the next step. I like the idea of that. Do you have any advice for new initiates Leonie?
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2021
L – No matter what challenges you have, it’s really important to make time. Swami showed us a fifteen minute kriya meditation practice, so do that one if time is a challenge. If discipline is the challenge, then see it as the path forward with light and peace.
N – I like the idea of a fifteen minute practice! We didn’t get that, although we were told which parts we could miss out if time was an issue. That’s very good advice, Leonie.
Thank you so much for talking to us today Leonie, is there anything else you’d like to share?
L – Yes, I was already on a plant-based lifestyle, it has really helped me, especially having worked in animal rescue. Earth is screaming for people to be peaceful and loving and kind to all and I feel in my heart that it is the right way and the way that we are going to heal Earth.
N – I agree. It was really nice to talk to you and I hope to meet you sometime, maybe on one of the Kriya socials.
L – Yes indeed, that would be lovely. God bless.
N – God bless
A 2000 year old tree in Canterbury, I meditated with my barefoot on her for 45 minutes. Trees have wisdom and peaceful energy. June 2022