Bill Ryan, PhD

Home City: Chicago, IL

Department: Wisdom Tradition

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: Growing up in the Midwest, my childhood was unremarkable. I kept going to college studying various subjects until eventually discovering (during my Ph.D. program) that teaching seemed to be my dharma. I taught a wide range of subjects in various academic programs (nursing, health education, and exercise physiology) at different colleges and universities for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2015. I’ve always had an interest in music and began playing guitar in high school. My spiritual journey formally began in 1974 when I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation and has continued ever since.

Q: How did you find the Himalayan Institute?

A: In 2012 a friend who had visited the Himalayan Institute a few times for wellness programs suggested I do the same, as she knew I practiced meditation and thought I’d be interested. So in early 2013 I did a three day ayurvedic rejuvenation program through the Wellness Center. That was my introduction to the Himalayan Institute, and I felt an instant connection. I continued to attend seminars and two Self-Transformation Programs over the next couple of years before eventually moving there.

Q: What inspired you to join the community?

A: Around 2008 or 2009 I had what I call a spiritual reawakening. While re-reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, the Divine Mother reached out to me through the form of Anandamayi Ma, and I read all I could find on her life and teachings. As I learned more about the Himalayan Tradition, I realized that the teachings and philosophy were identical to that of Anandamayi Ma. I had found my home. After meeting with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, he kindly invited me to come to the Himalayan Institute after my retirement. I moved to the Himalayan Institute in June of 2015.

As I learned more about the Himalayan Tradition, I realized ... I had found my home.
Q: What have you learned during your time here?

A: There’s so much to say… but here are a few main points:

  • I have learned more about yoga in general and meditation in particular in the past two to three years than I had learned in the preceding 40 years of practice. That’s saying something!
  • It is reassuring to have as a foundation a living tradition, thousands of years old, that keeps the eternal and universal knowledge of self-realization fresh and alive.
  • Yoga is a practical and organized discipline. What you do (in terms of yoga practice) is more important than what you believe.
  • While each of us has a unique path, our ultimate goal is the same. There is comfort and support being among like-minded seekers.
Q: If there was one thing you could share about the Himalayan Institute, what would it be?

A: There is no religion espoused here—people of all faiths and beliefs are welcome. No approach to self-realization is excluded. Yoga is both a practical science and philosophy of living. You don’t have to believe anything. Let your direct experience gained through the practice of yoga be your teacher. The potential for learning, for healing, and for personal growth here is endless. I know that’s more than one thing, but I couldn’t help myself.