Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gavai and Suni-ai

In his workshop at Winter Solstice Sadhana, Ravinder Singh brought up a really interesting point about Sikh scripture in general, and Jaapji in particular. Gurmukhi, he said, is either sung, or listened to. If you read Jaapji every morning, you probably know gavai (3rd Pauri) means singing and suni-ai (8th Pauri) means deeply listening.

When we recite Gurumukhi, we sing it. We are allowing the sound current to resonate and be heard through the vehicle of our unique voice. That is gavai. On the other hand, when we are absorbed in listening deeply to that same sound current, we are allowing it to settle inside us, as is. That is suni-ai.

I thought about this for a while after the workshop, but just last night I had an "aha!" moment where the past few years of my life made perfect sense to me! What a gift!

So I thought I would share...

About a year and a half ago, after having spent the better part of two years producing my first solo album, I made a decision that shocked everyone who knew and loved me: I decided to stop singing.

To some, I know it looked like I had given up on my dreams. After all, I had moved to Los Angeles that year to sing! What was I doing?

Instead of singing, I began to treat my "day job" at a raw food restaurant as the most important work I could be doing. I became very invested in serving people the best I could. No matter what their attitude. No matter what my mood. No matter what. (Or, in keeping with the extended metaphor of my piece, you could say I was listening to my customers!)

A few months later I volunteered at a festival. The attitude with which I had learned to serve people persuaded the festival to offer me a job. A few months after that, my boss made me sing at his birthday party in front of two of my favorite kirtan artists. A year later, there I was on stage in front of a few thousand kirtan fans singing with one of my favorite kirtan artists.

And so there I was, doing what I always thought I'd be doing: singing.

I realized yesterday that there are times in our life when we are meant to sing, and times when we are meant to listen. In other words, there are times for action, and times for reflection. The key is finding a balance between the two. In our society, we are encouraged to act, but often feel guilty for taking moments to reflect.

Yet, moments of suni-ai can save us a lot of time. They afford us the mental clarity to take better actions.

I feel very blessed to have experienced both modes of being--singing and listening. I was very grateful to Ravinder for illuminating a nuance in Jaapji that I had not yet contemplated.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Solstice Sadhana

I'm back from Lake Wales, FL!

I spent the last week in a reclaimed summer camp outside of Orlando. It was very moist, sandy, cold, and cozy. We meditated in the ambrosial hours, chanted, moved, danced, healed, and laughed.

Treysha got to sing quite a bit. We sang with Gurunam, Sat Darshan Singh, Simrit Kaur (well, Allison and Michelle did), and SOL Temple. We were streamed on Spirit Voyage's blog (click here to view the archived video). And we sang for the all night kirtan on the last night I spent there. Oh, and we had a CD to share with everyone, which we managed to get together in the days before we left (check it out here).

I am so grateful to have these practices at my finger tips...
I am so grateful to know the people I know...
I am so grateful to see the relevance of what I am learning in my daily life...

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Now I am here in snowy Connecticut. The pace is much slower. I am getting a lot of sleep. I am integrating. I am feeling the best I have in my life.

And the forecast for tomorrow is even better.

Blessings to all.

Good night moon,
Sirgun

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

thank you

thank you for finding me and lighting the way
thank you for inviting me to play
on strings, on keys, with angles and shapes
thank you for catching me when i would have escaped
thank you for sharing, and un-blurring my sight
thank you for beaming daylight into every night
thank you for holding a mirror to my heart
beholding my vision the seas did part

thank you for holding me up through it all
thank you for who I AM most of all

love, Sirgun

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Does It

I made this as the header for a newsletter. I remembered that it had been a little under 2 years since I last sent a newsletter out to all the awesome people who have signed my mailing list since 2006. So I will send one out in the next few days before Winter Solstice.

I was reflecting on what's happened so far, particularly the ease with which my band, Treysha, was able to record our first Live Sadhana CD. Michelle got the offer from a friend to set up a recording system. Ram Kirn happened to be leading the yoga that Saturday morning, which also happened to be a teacher training weekend (meaning 100 people in the room, as opposed to the usual 7 or so). I whipped up a graphic for the label in a few hours. Allison bought all the supplies and scouted out the best prices on everything. Within 3 days we had done everything A-Z. (Now we just have to burn about 200 of them! Luckily there are 3 of us.)

Anyway, it reminded how everything happens easily. The hardest part is having enough trust to get out of our own way.

When I took a music break a little less than 2 years ago I felt a little guilty. I had just made an album after all. Why was I throwing my hands up in the air, halting my rise to fame? (Or something like that.)

Things didn't feel right then is all I can say. I wasn't on my path and everything felt like a struggle. Mostly, I felt I was repeating the same mantra over and over again: "You were wrong. I'm hurt. I have 5 minutes to yell at you in song-form."

It's ironic then, that the first great thing to come of any of the music on "the self-fulfilling prophecy" (which, indeed it was, over and over again), was a spot in a movie about taking responsibility for your own reality. Martin Dunkerton's film is officially launched. I'm even on the soundtrack!

So too have I launched... a new phase in my life.

My new mantras are more like:
Sat Naam - truth is our identity

or,

Ek Ong Kaar - we are one with all of creation

or,

I am bountiful, blissful, beautiful. I am.


Intuitively, I must have understood the power of the word when I decided to stop repeating the ones that put other people in charge of my happiness. I understand more and more each day though.

I am grateful beyond words (wahe!) for having found my path.

And I can't wait to see what is ahead. Patience does pay.

Blessings,
Sirgun



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rough Dry

One of my mentors once advised us: "Come clean, even if you come rough dry." She was referring to what happens to clothes dried on a line. They're clean, but really stiff and unattractive.

The idea is that you offer your ego up and it doesn't matter what that happens to look like from the outside... you came clean.

I was the given the opportunity (and challenge) to air my "laundry" this past week. Not easy. Not fun. So necessary. So grateful.

Facing my shadow wasn't easy. But it's a lot easier than carrying around all that shadow-laundry.

The moral is: if it's that bad, why wouldn't you want to keep it inside you?

The intelligence is: it's not actually that bad once it's out. Even if it's rough, at least it's clean!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Click "Reset"

I was in quite a state of unrest yesterday. I called my friend whom I was supposed to meet up with to tell him I didn't trust myself to drive... we'd have to reschedule. He suggested I do 11 minutes of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.

First off, it went REALLY fast! Secondly, I emerged with a completely clear perspective. The effects of the kriyas that Yogi Bhajan brought to the West are, in a word, magical.

I highly recommend practicing this kriya in moments of panic... when simple deep breathing or physical yoga just isn't cutting through the mental clutter.

This was like clicking the "reset" button on my day yesterday. I am so grateful!



Blessings,
Sirgun

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One More Came to Visit

A spark lit your heart and turned your world red
Heated from within, everything was felt and unsaid

And you led with your presence
You inspired with your light
Dissolving conflict with elegance
You saw with clear sight

And then came to visit a smudge on your glow
A sticky substance oozed in and you had to let everyone know
That you had stood there
That you had been the one
To do this and do that
Since time had begun

And people praised you--an automatic response
They lauded and cooed and the smudge swelled at once

And now you live to make the smudge grow
When you could bask in the infinity of your natural flow

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kirtan @ Bhakti Yoga Shala

Last night I sang at Bhakti Yoga Shala with my friend, and co-band member from Treysha, Allison. She was leading a last minute kirtan last night and called me and Sita for support. I was more than happy to assist.

My parents came and chanted their hearts out, which made the event even more special. It was their very first experience with live sacred chant.

My dad told me this afternoon that he felt very clear from "here to here" (pointing to the track from his navel to his heart). My mom said it really helped her back ache.

Kirtan is so healing. How blessed I am to be chanting so much these days.

I wanted to share two videos from the night...


This was the second mantra we did. You may recognize it from this complete song: click here.




And a recap of the whole night...


Friday, November 19, 2010

After the Amrit Vela

Here's a little video I made of Treysha's Thursday Sadhana. We got a little loopy afterwards...

I love vlogging. Sat Naam!


Blessings,
Sirgun

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rest Kriya

After White Tantric Yoga last weekend, where we had a full 62 + 31 = 93 minutes of lying on our back, it occurred to me that this might be a nice daily kriya to enjoy.

See, after Sadhana (3:45am - 6:00am) I usually feel a little tired. And if I don't, it is sure to catch up with me during the day. I've tried not napping and napping, and neither feel particularly good.

So, resting...

I'm actually liking the effects of doing SAVASANA for 45-60 minutes after Sadhana.

Here are the rules:
1. I have to lie on my back
2. I can't get under the covers in my bed, but I can use a blanket on top
3. I listen to soothing music for the allotted time, and wake up to "Song of the Khalsa." (It brings back memories of resting in the Gurdwara in EspaƱola for Teacher Training).

So far so good.

I can feel my body repairing as I rest, but I don't get groggy or disoriented from "sleeping."

I like this kriya a lot!

Sat Naam,
Sirgun

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Don't Know

I think the meaning of this Pauri is:

We have no power independent of the ONE. Only in awakening to the vital pulse that beats through us, as us, in everyone indiscriminately (should we choose to recognize it), do we have power.

The last line is translated as: "Oh, Nanak, no one is high or low."


Our inner-knowing connects us to the source of our true power. That Source is the same for everyone. "No one is high or low."

A toast to your power,
Sirgun


Friday, November 12, 2010

Bless This

Bless you
Bless me
Bless thou
Bless thee

Everything is always blessed.

I was thinking about blessings today. What can someone give to another being who is already whole? And the answer was: awareness of that truth.

The blessing is in the remembering.

Most people forget at a very small age that they are spiritual beings in an earthly incarnation. A few of us who practice yoga get to remember this once in a while. And, to the best of our ability, we strive to remember it with every breath.

Not always so easy.

So, a blessing is a reminder. It is a conscious moment of remembering who we are.

We are Divine by birth, human by habit.

Blessings,
Sirgun


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Conduct Your Sound

Sound is a scape of wonder
A divine sonic play
by which the unseen source of all there is
reminds us all each day...

That we are imperfect vessels
Perfectly able to contain
sounds beyond the realm of thought
sensations without a name

We can hold these rhythms,
Small as raindrops, vast as space
We are imperfect beings
Perfectly capable of such grace

Not just formed by this cosmic swirl,
Not just a testament to its power,
We are the centerpoise around which it can unfurl
In every minute of every hour

We are at peace when we realize our part,
And begin to conduct the orchestra of our own heart.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stop the World, I Want to Get Sick


Because my band, Treysha, has been performing for Sadhana quite frequently over the fast 2 weeks, I've been forced to attend 4am yoga pracrtice more than I would normally.

Emotional release from meditation + Not very much sleep = I got sick.


But even when I couldn't sing, I still had to show up to sing with them. I knew they would cover up my scratchy melodies, so it wasn't a big deal. And I played harmonium.

What I didn't expect was that this could actually be good for me. My body is repairing incredibly quickly!

Moreover, I realized that continuing my practice NO MATTER WHAT is really important. I can't use illness as an escape route. No more vacations.

See you in the Amrit Vela,
Sirgun

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sickness: Another Perspective

When we forget that we are One,
little things appear to menace.

When we forget that we are Love,
the obstacles can seem like penance.

When we remember we are Mighty,
and we tune in to what is real,
no event can smudge the canvas of our life,
not even shades of how we feel.

And sickness is a reminder that I am not my skin
I am not the layers peeling off.

I am the Truth within.


Thank you oh Great Intelligence, Great Energetic Force, God, for another opportunity to see myself for the I Am that I Am.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Friday, October 29, 2010

Treysha - my new sadhana band

This is a "listener's digest" of our entire Sadhana this week at The Golden Bridge.


And this is from our first rehearsal -



It's so fun to be in a girl band!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Karmic Classroom

I had the honor of speaking with one of my mentors today, who reminded me of something I sometimes forget: "This isn't about you."

Specifically, she was talking about the way I feel about disciplining children. I am pretty lenient when it comes to discipline. And, I'm used to teaching very small children, who usually know to behave after an adult has reprimanded them.

My mentor reminded me that this was a great opportunity to teach the kids (who are in 4th and 5th grade) about the law of cause and effect.

Karma.

Karma means when I do something it has an effect.

"Because I can choose my action, I am responsible for the outcome of my action."

I am responsible for the environment I teach in based on the boundaries I set in place. And more boundaries, consequences, are in order here!

This isn't about me. It's about teaching them about making good choices.

I'm actually enjoying teaching this class very much, but yesterday was rough. I think candy season is in full swing, and I'm going to have to be ever-more present and on the tip of my toes.

Sat Naam,
Sirgun

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Absolutely Complete

I made a recording of this mantra, taken from the Upanishads.

Om pUrNamadah pUrNamidaM
pUrNAt pUrNamudacyate
PUrNasya pUrNamAdAya
pUrNamEvAvashiSyate

It means:
That is whole; this is whole;
From that whole this whole came;
From that whole, this whole removed,
What remains is whole.

You can also download it for free if you like.

May you remember your wholeness.

Blessings,
Sirgun


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mutual Benediction

A prayer for you is a prayer for me.

I am currently enrolled in a prayer class. It seems like a peculiar thing to go to school for, but I am actually learning a lot.

Affirmative prayer is the practice of prayer from the place of "it already is." It is a five part formula.

1. This is what God is...
2. And so this is what I am...
3. So, this is what I know to be true...
4. I am grateful...
5. I release it, knowing it is done.

It is one thing to have faith in your own prayer, but it is quite another thing to hear someone else affirm it to you. What a faith boost!

I release this blog post knowing it is complete. And so it is. Sat Naam!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Songbirds

"The Songbirds keep singing like they knows the score. And I love you I love you I love you like never before." - Fleetwood Mac


My friend has taken to calling me "songbird." I like it.

In a class I took at Yoga West yesterday, GuruMeher Singh was talking about the necessity of having something you go to everyday to connect with your Soul. How blessed I am to have so many tools to do this! Yoga is definitely one. Music always has been this for me.

I learned to use my "voice" (in the sense of self-expression) through singing and writing music. I expressed everything. Really, listen to my old music! I didn't spare the audience much. Not much editing of information.

And for a teenager, at least I can say "better out than in."

I'm learning a subtler form of expression though. When I chant mantras--as I will be doing with C.C. White on Saturday, October 23rd, at Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica, CA (little plug there!)--I can express the feelings without speaking them in my own words.

In that case, "Karuna Sagari Ma" can be an expression of love, a release of anger, an outpouring of compassion, an apology, a question, an appeal, a cry for mercy... anything.

A man reminded me of this at Sadhana--the practice I do at 3:45am many days of the week--the other day. You want to use the mantras as a vehicle to express all the gunk in your subconscious. It should be painful! Then when you go out into the world, your mind is clearer. And you haven't hurt anyone or anything with your silly thoughts.

So yes, we shall sing on. We shall use the ancient words to siphon off the toxic fumes of the mind, diverting them, and crystallizing them into love songs to the Sacred One.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Do Laundry?

I have decided the general theme of my blog is "seeing the meaningful side of everything."

Today I'd like to share a thought I had about doing laundry. This is one of my least favorite tasks (second only to vacuuming)!

I liken it to doing yoga, especially vinyasa. After about 20 minutes in a Kathryn Budig or Vinnie Marino class, already starting to feel the sweat run down my body, my mind flashes: "WHY are you doing this to yourself?"

There is a clear point when my mind and body align in the realization that it feels REALLY good. I think this is about 25-30 minutes after we start. After that moment everything takes on a beautiful shade of rose and any exerting posture simply adds to the feeling of empowerment and opening.

And so it is with laundry!

I avoided doing this load for about 2 weeks. And, given that I have been doing a lot of sweaty yoga, you can imagine not only the amount, but the lovely fragrance of my hamper.

Today I was tired and didn't want to do anything, yet something inside me knew I would feel better about getting it done than resting.

And I was right!

Laundry feels SO good when it's done. It's the physical representation of that apana (stale energy) I get to expel during yoga. Once I've done laundry I feel an energetic lift. There is more prana (lifeforce energy) in my closet!

The home maps our life. A dirty, messy, cluttered closet takes its toll on the mind and body, and prevents us from being our best self.

I want to remember this feeling of accomplishment so I can motivate myself on the next laundry day... I'll just refer to this entry.

Peace and blessings,
Sirgun

p.s. the kombucha in the background was a present to myself to get me started. ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You are worthy...

of a million oceans,
a million smiles,
a million tries.

You are worthy of a crown around you,
a universe inside you,
and clarity to expound you.

You are worthy of every sound,
every sight,
and every uplifting thought.

You are worthy of a golden bridge
from where you are to the greatest height.

You are, in fact, worth a lot.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

... QUIT!

This is a quote from Rev. Leon from Agape a few weeks ago. I loved it.

When things seem difficult, you are either trying too hard, or stubbornly persisting down the wrong path.

The things that are in alignment with your Destiny always come to you. There is no need to effort your way to get somewhere or be someone. Because while you're struggling to do that thing that isn't meant to be, there is no time to notice the things that are.

If at first you don't succeed, take a deep breath and try something else!

Much love,
Sirgun

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Practicing What You Praise

The Re Man Shabd changed my life. When I first heard it, even though I didn't understand a word of it, and had no idea where it came from, I wanted to live in it.

It's all about knowing your own excellence as a personal experience, rather than as a theoretical concept.
Re man eh bidh jog kamao
Singee saach akapat kanthala
Dhiaan bibhoot charhaao
O my mind, practice yoga in this way:
Let truth be your horn, sincerity your necklace
Meditation the ashes you apply on your body

....

Jaap so ajapa jaapay
Chant even when you are silent.
In other words, live your life with the same integrity and commitment that you have practiced in the songs you sing. After a certain point, your life becomes the words you sing.

Ah, amazing! There is so much more to say, but I will leave it at this:

Why Meditation Solves Everything

I'm going to start with two bold statements:

The answer to every perceived ill and affliction on the planet right now comes from a lack of Awareness. AND, Awareness is the awakening of our ability to see God in everything and everyone.

Well, at least allow me to shed some light on the word God--which used to make me feel very uneasy--before you stop reading!

Yogi Bhajan, who brought what is known as Kundalini Yoga to the West, used the word with this acronym in mind: G.O.D. = Generator, Organizer, Deliverer. Cute, no?

This idea comes from India, where it is believed that there are 3 facets of the Universe:
  1. Brahma: who creates the world,
  2. Vishnu: who sustains it, and
  3. Mahesh: who delivers change and opportunities.
In other words, GOD is simply everything that is. This page, my dad, your hair, our thoughts, Saturn, and your favorite restaurant.

God is a just little word with some large baggage attached. But, regardless, of your religious affiliations, I'm going to use it to mean the entirety of all that exists (TEOATE!). There are thousands of equally insufficient ways of pinning down the entire Universe: Allah, Dios, Jah, Waheguru, etc... I have nothing against any of them. Using a word to give the invisible meaning and form is a great way to begin to relate to what we are, but cannot see.

In the West, we are super comfortable with the first two aspects of God--creative and sustaining--but not the third. Waiting for change to be delivered, after all, can be a little scary.

In fact, the kind of things associated with Mahesh (or Shiva)--death, destruction, transformation, upheaval--have traditionally been seen as the work of the DEVIL, not of God. And yet without change, there would be stagnation. With stagnation comes illness.

The cycle of life is such that each death gives birth to a new beginning. SA-TA-NA-MA means we come from Infinity, we are born and live, we die, and we are transformed into a new beginning. Everything on the planet abides by that law. Ask the trees.

So when we look at everything that is creative and sustaining as "good", and all that is transformative and changing as "bad", we have a block in our Awareness. We proclaim "it should not be like this." We see a problem.

When in fact, everything is playing itself out as it needs to be played out. When our skin is cut, the pus and the scar may not look beautiful, and the pain not be comfortable, but that is what the healing process happens to look like. That is what the world is doing right now.

Now, true, we can slow the recovery of a wound by tearing off the scab, or cutting ourselves again in the same place, or even cutting the body part off all together. There are many ways to prevent the natural flow, the natural change that is occurring. We can deny it, try to stop it, curse it, and even ignore it.

Similarly, there are many ways that we can impede Mother Earth's natural healing process. The biggest one is by not understanding what is going on at all--lack of awareness.

In other words, if you keep ripping the scab off because you don't like the way it looks, you've missed the bigger picture. And you've stood in the way of your own healing, which was happening naturally and without any effort on your part.

So how do we see the bigger picture?

Well, first we must understand the "big picture" is actually the "small picture."

What?

CLOSE YOUR EYES.

You are a Universe inside. If you can meditate long enough to feel the connection between your infinite reality (SA) and your finite existence (TA), you will understand who you really are (SAT NAAM = truth is the identity). And when you understand the small picture of you, you can see the bigger picture of "out there" with clarity and applied consciousness.

Here is a meditation that involves the sounds I was just talking about, and is easy for people to do, even if they have never meditated before. When you can silence your mind by focusing on the mantra (SA-TA-NA-MA) and the mudras (see photos below), you will experience life beyond your thoughts. You can then step out of your way, and the way of healing. And allow all things to be delivered to you without effort.

Kirtan Kriya:
Adults and kids can do this one together! Read descrition here. I've illustrated the finger positions with my hands. You put them on your lap though, not in the air. =)

SA - index finger and thumb

TA - middle finger and thumb

NA - fourth finger and thumb

MA - pinky and thumb

Remember to really press! This has been scientifically proven to stimulate different parts of the brain. And more brain activity = increased capacity for Awareness.

Sat Naam,
Sirgun

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flying High

Sat Naam Dear Friends and Fairies,

Yesterday was my birthday and oh what a magical day. I did some yoga (quelle surprise!), some meditation, taught some yoga & meditation, and went for a wonderful vegan dinner in Venice with some of my favorite people on the planet.

In case you are looking for a fun place with a great atmosphere that is veggie-loving, I highly recommend Vardo Cafe on Main St. in Venice, CA. It's almost next door to Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, so you could even make a night to yoga and dinner. It's the new dinner and a movie. =)

I am soaring high in the sky with that shooting star.

I feel so blessed to have so many angels in my life - seen and unseen.

Peace and Pixies,
Sirgun

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deeply Listening

Suni-ai means "deeply listening." It's the kind of listening you do when you are listening with your heart, mind, and soul... not just your ears.

Suni-ai is when you understand without understanding the words. The kind of understanding that transcends language. So when the Japanese woman hands me an umbrella because it's raining, I don't have to wonder about the words she mumbled.

Suni-ai is when you understand the Universe is there to support you, even when you seem to be having a "bad day." If I am deeply listening, I know that there is a message and a blessing on the other side of each cleverly disguised obstacle.

The following chant is taken from Japji ("Song of the Soul"). We recite this each morning in the Amrit Vela (3:45am!) in the Kundalini Yoga tradition.

It is a list of sorts... all the things you will perceive when you are DEEPLY LISTENING.


May your deep deep listening uplift you with the awareness that you are supported and cradled by the same energetic force that created you, conceived you, and deemed it important that you be on Earth right now.

Sat Naam,
Sirgun

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mastery of the Ground


etheric moments
and
synchronicities abound

i have still missed the mark
of the mastery of the ground

a million thinking sparks per blink of eye
uncaptured, though i dared try

and i may have revealed a vacant stare
for i just returned from way out there

from a trip there, where i forgot i'm me
where i forgot my task
--simply, to be

vibrating the beat of unstruck fears
shaking me into a flood of tears

until i flipped the switch of what i chose to see
laughed: "a moment of mental insanity!"

i did,
i confess,
see the world tonight,
through the frame of my own limited sight.


Settling In

What a whirwind!

For the first time in over three months, I am sitting at my humble abode in Santa Monica, with no imminent adventures lurking around the corner. In a sense, what a relief!

My summer of utter transformation began with 10 days of Summer Solstice at Ram Das Puri in New Mexico. That was my first White Tantric (3 days!) and the start of my 1,000 day bound lotus kriya. It was also there that I decided to return for the Aquarian Teacher training immersion in August.

The theme for Summer Solstice this year was the first tattva. And the fire did burn for me this summer.

I still feel that I have some more "stuff" to burn off, but I certainly can't be accused of being a spiritual slacker!

When I got back from Solstice, I temporarily quit my job, went to visit my brother and my friend in Northern California, and cared for a sick friend.

Upon my return I moved out of my apartment into a family friend's home before I set off for the mountains of New Mexico.

The teacher training was unbelievable! Snatam Kaur came to talk about mantra. She also performed for the community at morning Sadhana (twice!).

For me, it was a validation that I was meant to be there. I will occasionally doubt this kundalini yoga "lifestyle." There is a lot of discipline involved and the challenge is to take "fewer vacations" from it. I allow myself to put on the brakes a little too often sometimes in the disciplines I choose. Snatam reminded me what I'm in it for!

When I returned from the grueling work of teacher training, I rushed off to help out with the festival I've been organizing all year!

Bhakti Fest 2010 was sensational! We did a really great job. There are still a few kinks to work out, but all in all, it was a beautiful ride.

And a ride it was...

The four days FLEW by. I couldn't believe all the work we did for an event that lasted a split second. What a reality check!

One of the highlights was performing on the mainstage with C.C. White! What a powerhouse! It was such a privilege to be part of such an amazing band... and to play for so many like-hearted souls. Rejoice!



When I returned home, I was a little disoriented and very tired. I've actually never been so tired in my life. I would get tired when I woke up, sleeping more than 12 hours at a time. I pushed a limit at the festival for sure.

I am excited to get back into morning Sadhana, start teaching classes, finish my certification requirements, do more singing...

I have a video coming soon.

Unending love,
Sirgun


Monday, September 6, 2010

Becoming an Aquarian Teacher #1

Immersed in a sea of familiar souls,
I swim the flow of the dharmic current.

This is a video from Day 18 of my teacher training in New Mexico. I look a little sunken in the couch, yet glowy in my own right.

Days at the ashram began at 3am (sometimes I would "sleep in" until 7am) and end at around 9 0r 10pm. We listened to lectures, chanted, practiced yoga, performed seva.

One of the most amazing parts about this adventure was infiltrating the EspaƱola Kundalini community. I feel I have a home there for life (and beyond!).

What a blessed incarnation I have!



Sat Naam,
Sirgun

p.s. in the background I am playing Guru Prem Singh and Simran Kaur Khalsa's "Communication" from Heart Rules.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Righteous Return

I am back from New Mexico. I have photos, videos, and stories to share...

I will write soon.

Blessings,
Sirgun

p.s. who's coming to Bhakti Fest 2010?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A True Relief

There are those who choose to notice
only sea, no sky

Nibbling the great underneath,
bumpy, wet, and dry

Seeing the ground below so well,
they look as though their head just fell

They look as though they were best friends
with the point at which their nose ends

Until one day a ladybug
sits cross-legged on their crown

And looking up in that instant
they forget to look down

A moment's gaze above
-- just enough to just amaze

How could they have been so focused
on something so contained?

The Earth is solid matter,
and thank God, is my belief

But the Universe is infinite,
and that is a true relief!



Sunday, August 1, 2010

Protein Mythology

The #1 question I get asked as a vegan is how do you get your protein?

The question is loaded with poorly researched assumptions.

While plant sources are perfectly great sources of protein--chia seeds and quinoa are complete proteins, leafy greens are excellent sources of a variety of amino acids that are easily assimilated into the body and will gladly transform into the clean building blocks we need for our bodies--that is not the point!!

Let me highlight some of the myths that our society propagates about meat, and hopefully clarify some points about protein... and why we don't need to worry about it at all!

Myth #1: You need to eat animals to build protein

The idea that you have to eat another animal's muscle in order to build your own, is akin to thinking you have to eat someone else's hair to grow long hair.

I do not need to eat toe nail clippings to have strong nails, nor do I need to eat a toothbrush to have clean teeth.

Protein is indiscriminately distributed to all life on planet Earth. And our amazing bodies create protein from a combination of amino acids in our food. Plant life is far more easily assimilated than another animal's muscle because our body doesn't have to go through the extra step of deconstructing another animal's protein to then recreate its own.

It's like trying to build a New England colonial house from remnants of an airplane. Why not just buy some lumber (one day, hopefully, some hemp or bamboo composite)?

Myth #2: We run a risk of deficiency
How many people on the news have you seen being rushed to the emergency room in the US for protein deficiency? Ever heard of a protein deficiency ward?

Now, have you ever heard of a cancer ward? How about high blood pressure, clogged arteries, heart attacks, heart disease, obesity?

It has been said before, but these are diseases of excess, not of lack.

Sadly, we were taught that we needed to eat meat, dairy and eggs to stay healthy. Now, we are over-consuming these once "special occasion" items, and we are suffering from diseases caused by our glut.

The only people who could ever suffer from a deficiency in protein are those who are starving, or eating only junk food. And in those cases, who even cares about protein... they are suffering from a severe lack of nutrients and calories!

Myth #3: Our natural diet is meat-eating, so vegans should model their diets after omnivores

We are pretty pathetic carnivores, or omnivores at that.

My first experience of questioning the assumption that we should eat meat, beef in particular, was in my senior year of college. I was trying to imagine myself taking down a cow with my bare hands. The image was quite humorous, and so I decided to stop eating dairy and beef. Cows were simply too big.

Then, I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins (run, don't walk, to read it!), in which I learned that our entire anatomy suggests we are made to eat mostly plants.

First we have no sharp teeth for tearing flesh, no sharp nails for killing. Animals that eat mostly meat have short smooth tubes for colons. We have a long corrugated coiling fun slide that requires fiber to "brush" everything out.

There is no fiber in animal products.

As an aside, I think that we are capable of eating small amounts of animal products, as we had to in times of shortage. But miracle of miracles! We are no longer roaming through the woods trying to survive. We have millions of choices at the super-market, which allow us to quite easily live a cruelty-free, eco-friendly lifestyle.

This message was brought to you by the protein myth buster foundation.

Thanks,
Sirgun

Wahe Pain!

Today is Day 34 of my Bound Lotus kriya-commitment.

I have decided to do my practice later in the day today, as it is Sunday. I "slept in" until 8:30am, which for most wouldn't be so exciting... but if you are in the habit of waking up before the sun has, you would have a different perspective I suppose.

I chose to talk about my commitment to do 1,000 days (or more?) of bound lotus now because I wanted to make sure it was something I wanted to continue doing before I shouted it out on the rooftops: "I am insane!"

1,000 is the traditional number of days one has to practice something before one attains mastery.

In a previous blog I had expressed my desire to master BL and also Camel Pose. For both kriyas, mastery means 1,000 days of 31 minutes of practice. No days off. No interruptions.

My experience in doing this kriya has been quite profound. Some days are extremely painful.

It's a different kind of "pain" though. It's so great and indescribable I have used the term "Wahe"--usually part of the expression "Wahe Guru," which means "Wow, indescribable is that force that turns all darkness to light!"

Indeed, this kind of pain is not like getting hit with a baseball bat, which leaves a bump or bruise, and hurts for a while after. I suppose that sort of pain could move you forward, but it would be a slow path to enlightenment... continually being hit by a bat!

No, I can only liken it to the way one feels fasting. It's pretty uncomfortable DURING, but AFTER one feels lighter, cleansed, and healed. There is a reward.

It is exactly that awareness of a "light at the end of the kriya" that gets me through 31 minutes in lotus pose with my arms wrapped behind my back, gripping my toes and bowing my head on the floor. I am still working up to that final expression, actually. Right now, I sit is lotus or half lotus, grab my elbows behind my back, and bow on the floor or a pillow.

I will talk more about the benefits of this kriya later, but for now I just wanted to shout on the rooftops: "I am insane!"

Blessings,
Sirgun

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Attitude Adjusting

Today I offered my services to a family friend who has been very generous to me.

I came down to her office and was immediately put to work. I went through inventory, pulled discontinued clothing from the racks (having to reference by color and number from a book!), ran boxes down to the trash downstairs... The last task she gave me was taking three huge boxes of hangers, sorting them and consolidating them.

I felt a little voice in my head resist. "This is too much!" I had reached my seva saturation point.

It was then that I remembered the way I sometimes feel during a yoga pose or kriya. I'll want to give up because I'm being challenged, but, because I know it's good for me, I keep up. And I'm always glad that I made that choice.

So, realizing that I was being challenged (and challenges are an opportunity to grow!), I started chanting. The yogic equivalent of "whistling while you work" I suppose.

I chanted "Godinday Mukanday" because that is a good mantra for calling upon our inner strength.

It was magical! Immediately I got calmer, less angry, and less defensive.

In fact, I started to think: "Wow, how lucky I am to get to do this! This is kind of fun!"

It's funny how one of my goals in life is to teach children about their own resources and how to tap into their intuition through yoga. And here I was being reminded of how to be a child.

When you are little, it doesn't matter what you're doing, it's the presentation that makes it a punishment or a reward.

"You have to finish that entire cake!" is different from "Hey, let's finish this delicious cake!"

"Gobinday Mukanday" turned my task into:
"Hey, I have a GREAT idea! Let's stack all these hangers and put them into this super big box."

To your inner-child!,
Sirgun

Monday, July 26, 2010

Full Moon Waning

And thank goodness! That was an intense.

Yesterday was "Guru Poornima," which I celebrated up in the Hollywood Hills with some friends and fish. Full moons are good times to set new intentions. They mark the end of an era.

One of my yoga teachers once told me that EVERYTHING swells up when the moon is full. This is the time when, for example, we have the most parasites in our body. Lovely.

Anyway, it is nice to release that feeling of heaviness and watch the moon wane...

I am feeling a little lighter today.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Download: "Music of Letting Go" (Demo)

The title says it all, yes?

CLICK HERE

Instructions: scroll down to "free downloads" section and click "DOWNLOAD MP3." =)


En-joy,
Sirgun

The Art of Ethics


the way things look in paint
masterful and bright
attracted to the colors
my eyes like to see what's right

blank patches of raw canvas
rarely show up first
i rarely see the scratches
right beside the joyful sunburst

i do not wish to see what's wrong
but i do wish to see more
and if this was papyrus
i'd want to know what had come before

i'd want to touch the layers
that the brush had rendered smooth
feeling layers upon upon layers
of integrity and truth

ethics are an inner-sense
they do not fade with time
and time will tell whether this painting
was painted with ethics in mind

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Some videos...

Here are some "first trys" for some of the Aquarian Sadhana mantras...

The Mul Mantra:


Wayantee, Karyantee:


Rakhe Rakhanhar:

Spirit Fest in September!

Spirit Fest

So excited about this festival in September! I will be singing with Sat Jot Singh!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Hair: Why Fight It?

So I promised my next blog would be about hair.

For reasons that I expressed in my last blog, I have been thinking a lot about hair lately.

"Civilized" cultures have for a long time been cutting, waxing, shaving, dying, plucking, curling, straightening, lightening, frizzing, threading, extending, and kinking their hair.

I never thought much of this until I was in New Mexico in June with so many people who just let their hair BE. On top of their heads, on their legs, under their arms, and on their faces.

It seems to me that an underlying idea behind hair removal is correcting something your body is doing wrong. In other words, DOING something to change what you already ARE. Apparently, things are not OK as they are.

What a losing battle we engage in when we try to stop the growth of our hair. Really. It ALWAYS grows back. Clearly, it wants to grow. (An exception is when you laser it off, which, I have heard, is pretty permanent.)

And unlike the good maintenance involved in say, trimming back a plant, there is no good reason to trim back the hair on our legs other than for a dominant trend that disfavors hairy legs.

I was thinking about the 60s and the musical HAIR. I was a huge fan in my teens, but I never really got what hair represented.

It is the wild part of ourselves, the natural, the real. It is the growth we cannot suppress.

Accepting what is can be very freeing. For the time being, I am letting my hair grow to see what that experience is like.

Many blessings,
Sirgun

P.S. I still think good grooming is important. Brushing and washing your hair makes a great deal of sense!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tribal Kundalini

First off, I LOVED the film "Avatar."

Beneath the beautiful graphics and special effects, the familiar humor, the trite love story, and the battle you knew they'd win, was a beautiful message about Unity, Communication, and Connection to our Self and each other.

Avatar reminded the world that this deep connection to Nature, our fellow Earthlings, and our true Self, is still tangible -- just dormant in most.

And, the fact that the film was so commercialized and easily digestible for the average consumer, was, in my opinion, commendable! How else do you reach the general public, if not by using the same channels people are already plugged into?

Brilliantly devised!

But that's not what I wanted to write about actually. This is what I wanted to write about...

KUNDALINI, and THE NA'VI

1) Did anyone else notice the Na'vi doing sufi grinds by their "tree of souls"?

In Kundalini yoga, much emphasis is placed on awakening the energy at the base of the spine. Your spine is like a hose, and if there is one knot in it, the water cannot flow freely through it. If you are energetically blocked at your Muladhara chakra (Root Chakra), this severely impedes the flow of energy up your spine. You can experience this yourself by doing a few sufi grinds like the Na'vi. Just sit with legs crossed and begin to make circles with your upper body, like you are drawing an "O" on the ceiling with your head. Do this for 1-3 minutes and the switch directions. I dare you not to feel more connected!

2) The Na'vi use their hair to communicate with the plants and animals?

Kundalini yoga originates from the House of Guru Ram Das, a Sikh. Sikhs let their hair grow. One of the of the reasons for this is that they believe the hairs are like little antennae that communicate with their surrounding environment and the ethers. I once heard a Native American say that in his tribe the people let their hair grow because it connects them to the Earth. There is something in this. (I will elaborate on this in my next post!)

3) "I See You" = Sat Nam.

The Na'vi's greeting was not just something they said, like "hey", or "what's up?" In fact, the male lead, Sculley, was told several times he didn't use it correctly, until he had truly understood what he was saying. To use this expression convincingly was to recognize the person and know their true identity. In Kundalini, we say "Sat Nam", which means "Truth is our identity, or THE identity of all."

Anyway, I just loved the similarities. It showed me that when wisdom is applied it takes many shapes.

The same GREAT wisdom lurks behind many very different looking practices and religions. And, I think this "back entrance" point of view of what a religious practice is, would help resolve a lot of conflicts over differing dogmas the world over.

In Kundalini yoga we may not be massively tall, or dark blue, but we dedicate our practice to the awareness that everything is connected, because everything is one (Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam, Siri Wahe Guru!). Each time we sit on our mats, we have a direct experience of our finite self connecting to the infinite.

Sat Nam,
I SEE you,
Sirgun

p.s. Also, in Gurmukhi, "Avtar" means "Incarnation of God."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pavan Guru - Breath of Transformation

In Gurmukhi (language of the Sikh scriptures), "pavan guru" refers to the luminosity and insight that comes from the breath.

Each time we inhale we are surrendering to the limitless life force energy that both defines us and surrounds us. The blessed breath connects us to all of creation... to each other!

I spent 2 weeks up in the mountains of New Mexico experiencing this pavan guru. I camped at an event called "Summer Solstice Sadhana." I woke up every morning for 3:45am Sadhana, sang in 2 workshops, practiced yoga, performed seva on the sound missal, bowed to the Guru, drank yogi tea, met kundalini yogis the world over, and did 3 days of White Tantric Yoga!

It was incredible!

Breathing the mountain air, it wasn't hard to feel that "guru" (defined as anything that takes us from darkness to light) inside me. And since Kundalini Yoga places a heavy emphasis on breath with mudra and mantra, I saw for myself what 2 weeks of consistent practice does for the psyche.

Whatever obstacle we face, there is a breath that can carry us over to the other side. It is empowering to know this, and miraculous to see it in action.

Just a few examples:
  • When you are tired, try pressing in the left nostril, breathing just through the right for 3-11 minutes.
  • When you are stressed, try breathing through alternate nostrils - see video explanation here.
  • When you are fragile, try chanting Gobinday Mukanday Udaray Aparay. (Names for the cosmos as Sustaining force, Freeing force, Giving force, All pervading force, etc...).
  • When you feel enraged, take long and deep breaths for at least 3-11 minutes.
I will be learning more about these ancient remedies in August, when I take my Kundalini Yoga teacher's training! I'm going back to New Mexico for a 3-week intensive at the Guru Ram Das Ashram.

I strongly feel that the doctors of the future will be prescribing mudra, mantra and breath exercises as well as dietary recommendations. It's exciting to be on the cusp of this new era.

Blessings in every breath,
Sirgun

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We Go Through the Fire

Almost every morning I wake up and practice vinyasa yoga. About 20 minutes into the practice I regret waking up. It gets hot. I start to drip sweat beads onto my mat. My heart beat races. My breath speeds up and I have to keep moving along with its pace.

I look up and see the statue of NATARAJ. Shiva dances in the middle of the circle of fire. I am inspired.

We cannot go through life avoiding the difficult stuff, the fire. We must dance within in it.

Yoga is preparation for dealing with the unpredictable flames that ignite in our daily lives. We practice responding to discomfort with grace and awareness.

As I grow peaceful in my sweat, as I jump into crow pose despite my slippery arms, I learn what it is to move past my immediate discomfort.

I let it go for my greater good.

Please enjoy this little song as an ode to letting go of all that doesn't serve us. We dance in the fire to get through it. Again and again.



LYRICS:

This is not for the faint of heart
The music of letting go is in a minor key to start
But you will emerge wings spread
A beautiful phoenix rising up from the dead

This is the hardest part
Some things we leave grip tightly on our heart
But there are greater frontiers
You will see once you can look past your tears

And the energy you feel as you're lying next to him
It cannot compare to the LOVE you hold within

You must say:
"I love you enough to let you go
I love you enough to let you go"

Have you ever loved someone so much you just let them go?

Om Namah Shivaya
(I honor the power inside which allows me to become my greatest self)

The notes compound like a problem has evolved
That's just the dissonance wherein we can appreciate the resolve
These times they seem to never end
But you will look back and see they were your friend

Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru
(I am a product of the One Creative power whose identity is Truth. The wisdom that pervades my being and yours is great beyond description and comprehension.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

That's My Name Too

Teaching children's yoga has forced me to confront myself many times over. When I started teaching I realized that I was going to need to be as "clean" (emotionally, physically, and spiritually) as possible... and fast.

I found some amazing mentors on this path, people who live their truth as their lifestyle. People who actively engage their beliefs in their right action, right thought, right attitude, right livelihood, etc.

Most people I had met up to then used words to explain a truth they didn't necessarily live.

And all of us do this to some degree.

We intellectually understand and preach things - not eating animal products, using alternate transport, choosing love over fear, being of greater service to our community - that we don't live up to it all the time.

On the one hand it is good to understand where we'd like to be, so we are constantly growing.

On the other hand, philosophizing and pretending to live up to our words puts us out of alignment us with our Soul, and we end up deflecting our guilt onto others as judgement.

My failure to remember my reusable bag turns into a hatred of "those people who use plastic bags."

My failure to commit to an exercise regimen turns into a disgust of "those undisciplined people who are out of shape."

Whenever I can recognize this in my own behavior, I am so grateful for the auto-correction. It actually makes life kind of humorous.

I remember being in the middle of an intersection trying to make a left turn on a yellow light. A car ran the yellow light coming the other direction so I had to either make my turn on a red light, or be stranded in the middle of the intersection. Why would that car do that? How obnoxious!

At the next intersection I caught myself running a yellow light. I thought to myself: "Oh, I'm that obnoxious car now. How funny! Silly Sirgun!"

In those moments, it's easy to truly understand that "the other person is you."

We are all capable of being equally obnoxious. Just as we are all capable of being equally loving, fair, and truthful.

In teaching children, I want to make sure that I am consistent in upholding my own truth.

Statistically it's been found that children are much more likely to model their behavior after who their parents were, rather than what their parents said.

These are all our children, so let's be the people we want them to grow up to be!

Clean. Truthful. Pure. Observant. Always learning.

Truthfully,
Sirgun

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wind Blow


Winds of change blow strong towards summer
Foregoing sleep, they rip everything open

Hearts exposed, fire released,
An explosive red to white
From the bottom of my spine, to the top of my crown
the energy swirls and rustles up debris

It mustn't get stuck at the bottom
or along the way up

It must drink me, not refill my cup.

And one day I will sip from the windless air,
slurping a straw of something not there,
settled and nested in peaceful stare,
and think to myself "We're finally there."



INSPIRED ARTIST PODCAST EPISODE #71: Genevieve Solomon

I met Genevieve first as a client, then as a teacher, and now as a guest...  Cute example of the malleable roles we take on for one another,...

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