Unplug Every Day: An interview with Sister Jenna of the Brahma Kumaris
Sister Jenna is the founding director of the Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the director of the Washington, DC branch of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization. You can also find her speaking on America Meditating Radio.
This prolific teacher, writer, speaker, and radio show host once owned nightclubs in the DC area, drove luxury cars, and looked through the windows of her condominium to see the ocean. But the buildup of stress and a feeling that she had become a pawn in the game of life led her to seek another path, one modeled for her by her parents. She saw their lives and relationship change as a result of their practice of Raja Yoga through the Brahma Kumaris.
The woman now known as Sister Jenna had a powerful experience on a mountaintop in India that changed her own life. She now runs, among other things, a spiritual nightclub at the Meditation Museum in the Beltway. In February 2015, Sister Jenna was one of the featured presenters at the Conscious Life Expo. She spoke to us about unplugging and getting off the grid in order to live more fully in the world.
Sister Jenna Encourages Us to Unplug to Live Fully
LA YOGA: How can we unplug on a daily basis?
Sister Jenna: Our own stress, our own pressure of not being able to keep up, is a strong signal for the need to get silent. Another signal of this need is that love, patience, tolerance, and the ability to accommodate life’s challenges, will decrease. Becoming aware of these signals is the first step.
The second step to unplugging is to notice the things that work for us: meditation, yoga, kayaking, running, swimming, sitting in silence, chanting a mantra, cooking. Whatever that might be that when you do it, you feel happier and you feel better. Engage in those actions, so your pure feelings can be stimulated.
The third step is to be patient and introduce silence into your life. Not just physical silence but a practice of maintaining thoughts that have an absence of waste and negative thinking.
Sister Jenna on her Personal Practice
LA YOGA: What do you do on a daily basis for your own practice?
SJ: I have a daily routine of getting up at three or four in the morning; at that time I can listen to the story in my own soul. Its easier for me to see what’s getting in the way of that story because there’s enough mental and physical silence at that time.
I think I have God’s attention because everyone else is sleeping. It is the soul that needs healing. The soul needs to go to God which is the ocean of love, and love is the greatest healer for the soul. So that’s my spiritual foundation. I also have a morning spiritual class every day at the ashram that gives me my direction. After that I watch myself to see if I’m giving more love than anything else. I feel I get off the grid by creating a cyclical pattern to be a giver, a sharer, a bestower of love more than I need to be taking from the world.
How to Begin a Personal Practice
LA YOGA: Where would you suggest someone begin their own practice?
SJ: Individuals have to begin where they are; that’s the most important point. The second thing is for individuals to know deeply within themselves their ultimate aim and objective for spirituality. I think the ultimate endeavor for spiritual practice is to accumulate powers in the soul that have been been lost. You are here to enjoy a virtuous life.
LA YOGA: How do you live in the world fully?
SJ: What is really needed is a deep personal spiritual connection to the source, to God, which is where we came from. When we reconnect our energies to that source our energies are restored. So then love gets to trump vices. Love starts to trump anger; the energy of peace starts to replace insecurity and fear.
Become the Master of Your Own Mind
LA YOGA: Do you feel that practice, taking the time for silence, and unplugging help to cultivate virtue?
SJ: For me the grid is where we’ve allowed the external world to make us think that it’s more powerful than my inner being. When I talk about getting off the grid and into the heart, I’m talking about not allowing whatever is happening outside of me that is driven by outside energy to try to convince me that I’m less than. Love, power, purity, and peace are not idealistic vibrations or feelings, they are the original qualities of the soul. A disciplined format of anything that will take you back to being more mindful of your quality of thoughts and actions will keep you focused. Because the goal and the reward is you becoming the master of your own mind.
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.