“There is the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.”
Mukunda Stiles, Author and Director of the Yoga Therapy Center Mukunda Stiles is the author of Structural Yoga Therapy, YogaSutras of Patanjali, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, and Tantrik YogaSecrets. He is a spiritual mentor and gives trainings in Boulder, Colorado, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Ganeshpuri, India. For more information, please visit the Yoga Therapy Center at: www.yogatherapycenter.org.
Q. What experiences put you on your spiritual path?
A. I had a profound experience the very first time I did yoga. I was drafted during Vietnam and put into the army’s prep school for West Point Military Academy. While in school, a friend found a yoga book and I said with curiosity, “Let’s do what it says.” The book stated that yogis could control their minds and slow down and even stop their respiration and heart. I tried to do this and was successful without a mentor—something I would not encourage today. I went out of my body for an hour, hovering at the ceiling while looking down at my physical form lying on the floor. This gave me the lasting realization that I am not my body. For the next few years, I experienced several paranormal phenomena: past life readings, spontaneously healing others, astral travel, and being in the state called Samadhi while in the company of an omnipresent spirit. Looking back, I would say I started out on the path of the Yoga Sutras, which is about psychic abilities that arise from spiritual awakening. The Yoga Sutras are the guidebook for yoga as a spiritual practice.
Four years later, I met my spiritual teacher, Baba Muktananda, who helped me understand the spontaneous experiences I’d had and gave me a spiritual practice to stabilize and deepen my connection to Spirit. The practices of Tantrik Yoga that my guru gave helped me live an integrated spiritual and worldly lifestyle. Being with him and our spiritual group gave community to my life as my guru began to unite with an inner teacher that formerly was my intuition. I have always felt in their presence and am guided moment to moment. Sri Aurobindo said, “Yoga is condensed evolution.” I felt the truth of those words every day and continue to do so.
Q. What is your earliest memory? Why do you remember it?
A. Before I trained in rebirthing, I had little memory of my early childhood other than flashes of recollection from pictures my mother had. Once I trained in continuous Tantrik energy practice—which is a continuous pranayama or breathing with no pauses—early traumatic childhood memories and past life memories began to surface. I was in two earthquakes as a child, one when I was a few months old and the other when I was two years old. My parents didn’t respond well to those earthquakes. In the first one, my mother ran out of the building, leaving me alone inside. That certainly colored my early life and led to my fear of abandonment in intimate relationships. In the second, my sister’s crib got knocked over in the middle of the night and my father ran into her room, accidentally kicking me in the stomach as I lay on the floor. So I got a tremendous contraction in my solar plexus and diaphragm as a result. Through yoga and rebirthing, that frozen breath, that stuck moment in time, was released. The main process of yoga is to be free of all stress and tension no matter where it originated, even from past lives. I am now at peace with these traumas and feel that relations with my parents have never been better.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.