Building Satsang

By Katrien

Stories From Meditators

Katrien, a passage meditator living in Belgium, describes all the different ways in which she’s found satsang for her practice.

It was in 2001 when I walked into a bookstore, desperate to find a book that could help me break free of the cycle of stress and of the frantic pace of life.

Among many others, there was a book, Neem de Tijd, (the Dutch translation of Take Your Time) by Eknath Easwaran. Although I was skeptical whether anything could help me achieve this, I read the back cover which was quite appealing and decided to give it a try. What a blessing I picked up that book! I soon returned to the shop to buy the other book mentioned, Op de Goede Weg (Passage Meditation) and started meditating on the Prayer of Saint Francis. How long 30 minutes lasted in the beginning!

But I was hooked; passage meditation never got out of my life again. Although, I admit, it was with ups and downs for a very long time.

Katrien doing mantram art.

It was a lonely period, not knowing of anyone else close by using the eight-point program, no satsang and limited access to spiritual reading.

I was eager to read more, learn more, get in touch with the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation (BMCM) but in those days internet had not taken its place in everyday life, and no other books of Easwaran were available in Belgium. Driven by my enthusiasm, I found that I could order the book Essence of the Upanishads (then Dialogue with Death), which was being printed in India. So I ordered it, having to wait for more than three months for the book to arrive and me, in the meantime, very impatiently, passing by the bookstore every week to inquire.

How good it was to discover the website of the BMCM some years later! There was an eSatsang in which I happily enrolled. When the website was expanding, offering more opportunities for reading, spiritual fellowship and guidance, my dedication to the eight-point program grew accordingly. I started talking about the program to my friends, who had started noticing some changes in my ways of acting. Some of them were willing to read one of the books, but nobody got started on the program. Until the summer of 2012! A very dear friend of mine read the book Passage Meditation and got fired up. This turned out to be the onset of our local satsang.

In the summer of 2014 I finally visited the BMCM for a weekend retreat. These were three uplifting, inspiring days. Being surrounded by the wonderful people of the BMCM gave me the opportunity to discuss how we could proceed in having spiritual fellowship in Belgium. Returning home, my friend and I decided to have our small satsang registered on the website.

We use all the tools available to us: the books, Thought for the Day, the Video of the Month, webinars, the Blue Mountain Journal, eSatsang and Facebook. Many thanks to the BMCM for their continuous effort to make it easier for meditators around the world to have spiritual companionship and find support in their practice!

Since the start of our satsang many things have changed in my daily practice. Having a friend with whom I can share failures and successes in using the eight points is a great gift on the spiritual path! In our meetings we discuss our experiences with the point we focused on during the past week. Reading a few paragraphs in one of Easwaran’s books together or watching a video gives the opportunity to explore on a deeper level the meaning of his writings. Having a meditation at the end rounds the evening off with beautiful spiritual fellowship.

Katrien's satsang of two in Belgium.

After satsang there is always fresh inspiration, more enthusiasm and strength to live daily life according to the eight points and renewed energy to keep on working to create a bigger spiritual community around us.

On a local level so far, we have been organizing an introductory session and a regional satsang meeting with another meditator from Germany. Today, our local satsang still only counts two people but we are confident that when we are ready, our satsang community will grow.

We are aware there are many more people on mainland Europe who feel quite alone in their sadhana (spiritual practice), having no other passage meditator close by. Inspired by, and following the example of some fellow meditators in the US, we are planning to organize in the near future a virtual one-day retreat for all meditators in Europe (and others within approximately the same time zone) who would like to join us.

We trust that Easwaran will guide each of us on our personal path and in building a spiritual community in Europe, together with all other passage meditators.

To that end I find daily encouragement in these powerful words of Easwaran:

“To those who have faith in me, I will continue to guide them because I believe that this life is only a chapter in the saga of my spiritual evolution.

“May God bless all of you to find the peace that I have been enabled to find through my grandmother's guidance." 

– Eknath Easwaran