“By day ten, you’ll be fine,” said my teacher with a knowing smile, referring to the morning sadhana practice we were all committing to as part of our Kundalini Yoga Teacher training.
The morning practice began at 4am, requiring me to wake up at 330am, douse myself in cold water from the simple ashram shower (a yogic therapy for the nervous system), dress in white comfortable clothing and walk through the grounds past the still-sleeping cows to the yoga hall.
The morning practice is the cornerstone of the Kundalini Yoga tradition, and while I had participated in sadhana before, it was always a ‘one off’ occasion and never for 23 days in a row, which was the length of the training.
I knew it was going to be a massive challenge to rise so early every single morning, and yet, a deep part of me was extremely excited and ready for an experience so outside of my regular routine.
While I had developed a certain level of discipline with yoga and meditation, it waxed and waned, and as it happened, the time leading up to my teacher training course was the most undisciplined and uncommitted I’d been for some time.
This, combined with a visit to the place of my birth for the first time in three and a half years resulted in an emotional ass-whooping so great that I was humbled enough to be ready for whatever my teachers delivered across the 23 days of training.
Day 10 rolled around, but honestly, it wasn’t getting any easier to get up for the two and a half hour practice.
On day 14, I woke to the sound of my alarm and groaned. To myself, and possibly out loud, I said, “I am not doing this for my soul, I am not doing this for God, I am not doing this for any noble reason, I am ONLY doing this because I said I would.”
That morning, as my hands begrudgingly reached for my clothes and pulled them over my body, I knew it was only the commitment I’d made to myself which was seeing me through and nothing else. Left to my own will power, I’d have been asleep.
After the physical component of the practice, we began seven different meditations consisting of mantra, movement and breathing. Some were lovely and easy and enjoyable and a couple were extremely challenging for me, such as the ‘one minute breath’ where we would inhale for twenty seconds, hold the breath for twenty seconds and exhale for twenty seconds (the latter part basically simulates dying).
That morning, I found myself struggling with the meditations, so decided to give myself a break and lie down on my mat. Only, there was no peace to be found there either because my mind wouldn’t let up. I wasn’t happy meditating and I wasn’t happy relaxing. WTF?
Suddenly, I found myself up. Up and walking out of the room. It just happened. I stood outside on the balcony and tried to please myself with the view of the sun coming up over the Himalayan foothills and the sounds of monkeys and birds but that didn’t do it, either. Plus, there were some people outside who were MEDITATING and this felt like a complete affront to me.
Soon, the misery was over and it was breakfast time, thank God, followed by the usual 9 hours of yoga, lectures and meditations. Easy Peasy.
That afternoon, I sat on my mat listening to Guru Shabd speak. Throughout the training we had many wonderful teachers, including his wife Gurmukh and many others, but it was with him that I experienced my most profound insights and shifts.
He spoke of the value of commitment over ritual. Commitment to ones own soul over any ideology or dogma.
I realized how easy it is to confuse these concepts, as happens so often.
He spoke about only being able to truly serve others via the devotion to our own soul.
Then he began speaking about the mind and the many games it plays.
“Your mind doesn’t want you here!” He laughed. “Your soul does, but your mind – no way!”
I laughed at the absolute recognition of this as my mind had ejected me from the room that very morning. Once identified, a huge weight was lifted from me. My ego had kicked my ass and it felt like crap, but now, it all seemed quite hilarious.
The next morning, sadhana was a very different experience. I’d faced my ego and befriended it. I had experienced it’s tricks and manipulations which led to my suffering. By surrendering to it, I was able to transcend it.
As such, I journeyed into the unknown territory of transformation which exists in a place beyond the mind. During the twenty second exhale of the one minute breath, I felt myself dying… and it was actually a really beautiful feeling.
At the end of sadhana, I bounded up to the front of the large room to high five my teacher and alert him to the BIG NEWS that I had finally been able to do the one minute breath, after just 15 short days!!!
He smiled knowingly and gently replied, ‘It gets you high, right?’
Graduation day was indeed one of the most ‘High’ experiences of my life. I’ve watched so many movies set in India, simulating the color and life and energy of that magical land, but nothing came close to the experience of that day, embraced by the mountains and Mother Ganga and a thousand marigolds.
That afternoon, between the graduation ceremony and our closing party, I had a personal reading with a master Vedic astrologer and teacher.
The planetary alignment at the moment of my birth told the story of me better than I could have.
“So… a lot has changed in your life, right?” he asked, gazing at my birth chart.
“Everything, it seems!”
All I could do was nod, laugh and agree.
With this insight came some guidance:
“You entered a new phase at the beginning of this year – the most important phase of your life. This new period requires clarity about who you are. If you remain committed and devoted to who you are and have no doubts, you’ll have a wonderful time because there is a lot of energy behind you.”
Everything he said resonated with what I already knew deep within me, but it was extremely encouraging to receive this confirmation from the Universe.
The Science of Vedic astrology, called ‘Jyotish’ uses gemstones to harness planetary energy and emerald was the stone suggested to me for the next phase of my life.
The following morning, after an incredible evening of dancing and celebrations, I found myself in a gem store looking at emerald rings.
I wasn’t intending to actually buy one, but there I was, with one particularly sparking stone on my finger that looked like it belonged there. Moments before, I wouldn’t have imagined buying something so decadent for myself, but, like all defining moments, they surprise you.
The thought emerged in my mind, “I’m almost 36 and I don’t know whether I’ll get married, so why wait for someone else to buy me a beautiful ring?” It was indeed a leap for me to buy it. An act of faith. Faith in myself and in my own prosperity.
It represents more to me than a pretty stone or even an astrological reading.
It represents the time in my life, at 35 years old, that I made a commitment to myself and married my own soul.
It’s not easy to remember who we are in a world which seems to be intent on our forgetting. I’ve already forgotten a few times since my training ended five weeks ago.
But every time I glance down at my hand, at the shining emerald on my finger, I’m reminded of the moment I decided to fully commit to myself – my True Self – who is strong, bright and victorious.
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I’m teaching Kundalini Yoga in Playa del Carmen, Mexico on Mondays and Wednesdays, and hold Divine Dance sessions on Saturdays. If you find yourself here and want to join, let me know! You can find me on Facebook.
I’m beaming out my ‘Pura Vida’ intro to Kundalini yoga course via video. If you would like access to this online course, please head to this page for info on how to make the payment and access the 6 week course, which begins on Sunday December 4. The opening special is just US$50 and includes access to a live, weekly meditation circle and membership to a private Facebook group where I will share more resources to support your journey of discovery.
Places are filling for my next ‘Remember Her’ retreat – join us for a week of Divine Feminine connection in paradise, April 23-29, 2017. P.S Sign up for the retreat this week and receive FREE access to the online course.
I’m working with a very limited number of people individually, via Skype. If you are ready to commit to your Soul, find out about my ‘Soul Sherpa Sessions’ here. Email me on email@example.com to begin. All individual clients also receive FREE access to the online Kundalini yoga course.
Hope to see you along the way, somewhere!