Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Commitment: Revere It or Fear It?

It's funny that the same word that describes the decision to remain in a relationship with another human being (i.e. marriage) also describes the act of putting someone in a mental institution: commitment.

That says a lot about our society and how we feel about living up to our word.

Commitment gets a bad rap. And I will spend the following paragraphs describing the ways that commitment has saved me—not enslaved me. 


:: THE HABITS THAT MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU ::

Obviously, not all commitments are created equal. 

Committing yourself to beat your head against a wall each day will provide different results than getting up every morning before sunrise and meditating. 

So much of my past "commitment" was of the beating-my-head-against-a-wall variety. 

Simply put, there are promoting and demoting habits. What we do each day creates our habits. And our habits create our life. 

Meditation is so amazing because it can break us of our habits. But the habit to meditate has to become stronger than the habit to beat our head against a wall. Otherwise, our head beating muscles are going to grow a lot stronger than our meditation muscles. 


:: STARTING A SADHANA ::

Sadhana is body-sculpting for the mind, enhancing circulation to the soul. It is a spiritual practice done every day without exception.

My first "sadhana" was a Kundalini Yoga meditation called "Kriya for Liberation." 

I committed to do it for 40 days. 

In many traditions, not just Kundalini Yoga, 40 days is considered the minimum amount of time to break a habit.

If you want to quit smoking... commit to 40 days of substituting cigarettes for some deep breathing.
If you want to start playing guitar... commit to 40 days of practice.

My first sadhana broke me of the habit of returning to the same dead-end relationship I kept involving myself in (i.e. beating my head against a wall). 

You know when you finally say "no" to that lurking temptation, and say "yes" to your own sanity? 

Yeah, it felt that good! 


:: SAVING GRACE ::

It wasn't until I experienced it for myself that I really understood the power of commitment. 

Sure, this kriya was "robbing" me of 11 minutes of my personal time each day. Sure, I could have done something spontaneous and awesome instead.

Would I have done something spontaneous and awesome though? I'm not so sure.

I waste a lot of time in my days... spontaneously checking email, awesomely checking my news feed on facebook.

And given the results, even if my other options had been...
-rock climbing for 11 minutes
-collecting berries in the forest for 11 minutes
-learning to speak Urdu for 11 minutes
... I would choose the kriya again and again.


:: THE MIND TRAP ::

I'm not sure about you, but here's the dialog I used to have with my mind about sadhana:
Me: "I'm going to do my sadhana now."
Mind: "Really? Wouldn't you rather start a movie on netflix?"
Me: "Yes, but I committed to doing this sadhana."
Mind: "Wouldn't you rather bake a cake?"
Me: "Yes, but I committed to doing this sadhana."
Mind: "Gosh, this is really taking over your life."
And the irony here is, if we are having this internal conversation, it's not the sadhana, by the mind that has taken over our life! 

My mind still takes the reigns to my life a lot of the time. 

Having no responsibilities—to others or to myself—is not the definition of freedom, or a heightened state of being.

No more is having a month-to-month lease (or nowhere to live) somehow superior to owning a home. Acquiring and maintaining responsibility is a facet of becoming an adult on this planet. 

Freedom is an innate quality of the human spirit. 

It is our relationship to the commitments we've made and the responsibilities we've taken on that define our state of freedom. 

When we commit to nothing so we are able to live "in the moment" at all moments, we are surrendering to the whims of our mind. 


:: ILLUSION OF FREEDOM ::

Hooray! If someone asked me to move to Africa RIGHT NOW I could go... because I don't have a job, a home, or a family!

Yay! Huh?

I know a lot of midlife crises happen because people get to a point in their life where they have taken on so many responsibilities they can barely breathe. 

But it's not the making commitments that traps us. It's the fact that we don't simultaneously forge a relationship to our own soul. 

We are just as free in a field of wheat wearing a flow-y dress, as we are in our own living room. 

Trapped is when we lose all connection to what's real and define our "self" by the things we've acquired, the bills we need to pay, the trophies we've won, and the job we perform.

That's not who we are!

We are limitless, free, playful, divine beings having this human experience. Let's not take this too seriously, shall we?

Buying a sport's car and having an affair with a supermodel isn't going to change the fact that we have no connection to the truth of our existence—our Sat Naam. 

Unless we can find the freedom inside—with a spiritual practice—we will never find it. 


:: MY MARRIAGE ::

Perhaps the most epic commitment I've made recently is getting married. 

Marriage was never something I took lightly. My parents have been married for over 35 years and I've seen them go through everything together. I know it's work. 

I also know that it is the best decision I ever made.

Many people feel that committing to one person for their entire life is an unreasonable idea. 

I can't really speak to that, because I don't feel that way. I'm sure there are some people who would do better not to be married. I know I am not one of them.

On the day I said "yes" to my husband's proposal, I knew I had made the right choice. 

We had a very difficult time adjusting to each other's life rhythms at first. We had never lived together and it was very rough coming to agreements on very basic things like how to decorate, how to clean, etc.

Each time I felt myself doubting my decision, wanting to throw in the proverbial towel, I had to catch myself. I had to remember that there was a reason I made this commitment. 

I had to retrain my habit of leaving when things get hard. When things get hard is the perfect time to delve deeper and face them. 

Eventually, the friction in our daily life subsided, and I am so glad we both had the strength to stick around and work it out.

I'm sure there will be other moments in our lives when things will get uncomfortable and challenging. 

But if we can maintain our sadhana, I know we will be the stronger for it. 


Blessings in all you commit to.

Choose wisely.

Love,
Sirgun



















Pictures on Silence

I really loved this quote by Leopold Stokowski. 



Once we "paint" on the silence, there is still nothing tangible about music except in recording it. With every work of art—whether painting, sketch, sculpture, watercolor, collage or textile—there is at least a momentary something you can feel and look at. 

With music, it only exists in the moment it is created and we cannot feel it except with our hearts. We cannot hold it, except with our memory. 

Recording music is a way to feel it again and again and again... 

If you haven't already (and THANK YOU if you have!), please consider pre-purchasing my new album while I am still running my campaign. You can be a part of this creation... lend a stroke to the musical canvas of this new album.

In gratitude,
Sirgun

Friday, December 7, 2012

Healing My Relationship to Food

I have been wanting to write this article for a long time. I offer this narrative of my difficult journey with eating, not as a lament of my past, but rather as a testimony to the power that we possess to change our own life.

I believe it is because of the challenges I've chosen to overcome, that I am the happy and healthy woman I am today. I am grateful for all of this...


ENTER THE DISORDER

My battle with what I would call "disordered eating" lasted a little over 8 years. Like many dysfunctional habits, it was not something that became full-blown overnight. It started in stages, built-up some momentum, and then (thankfully) faded away just as quietly as it appeared.

If it had not been for a very supportive community, and a lot of Kundalini Yoga and meditation, I do not think I would have so easily been able to let it go. Thankfully, it never got to the point where my health was seriously at risk. However, it did completely take over my life and temporarily alienate me from people I love.


FRESHMAN 15... or 20... or 25?

You've heard of the Freshman 15, right? I never weighed myself then (still don't), but I know I put on the freshman 3 dress sizes.

The funny thing was, I had no idea you could gain weight. Seriously.

Growing up, it never registered to me that body weight was something we had any control over. I thought it was like complaining about anything how large your nose was, or how small your breasts were. There were things about my body that I didn't like (I was, after all, a teenager), but I never thought I could do anything about it besides complain.

Because of this, when I arrived in college and had to make my own food choices, I was oblivious to the connection between what I ate and how I felt and looked. (P.S. How I managed to preserve this innocence in France, quite possibly the most weight-obsessed country on the planet, is beyond my ability to reason).

Almost every meal I had eaten up until college was prepared from scratch by my mother. She never touted how "healthy" anything was—ever. It was just food. To me, cafeteria food from the Brown dining hall may not have tasted as good, but, just like my mom's, it was just food.

And the free cookies at every meeting I went to were also just food. And so was the unlimited cereal bar, and the late-night falafel, and... Well, you get the point.


REALIZATION

After an entire year of this, I felt really gross. My skin broke out and I had to buy new (larger) clothes.

My battle with acne, as well as the death of a childhood friend, made my sophomore and junior years in college very challenging. Having no other tools at my disposal to deal with this sadness and seeming loss of control over my life, I began to diet.

My first attempt was a do-it-myself version of the South Beach Diet, where I ate heaping quantities of salami and stayed away from all carbs including brown rice. It was not very successful.

The second thing I tried, which stuck for a great deal of time, was giving up all things involved with land animals: no dairy, no beef, no pork, etc. I became a sort of dairy-free pescetarian.

My diet restrictions didn't stop there. I began to mentally tally all the food I ate, trying to eat as little as possible during the day. This made me extremely hungry at night and prone to overeating.

I don't wish to go into too much detail about my actual diet. I do want to illustrate the mental change that occurred within me: I began to take a meticulous mental inventory of everything I ate.

And...

I began to live for the next meal. It was pretty much all I could think of.


SKIPPING AHEAD

After I graduated from college I went on a trip around the Pacific Rim that should have been a wake-up call. I spent a great deal of my time in Australia and New Zealand at grocery stores and in hostel kitchens making meals for myself. That's not to say I didn't do anything else, but my schedule definitely revolved around what I was going to eat next.

When I returned from my trip I had to make a change.

A close friend was in town on business in New York City (about one hour train ride from where I was living). She was on expense account and, in my opinion, was not using it to its fullest. I suggested trying an expensive restaurant I had heard of from a yoga teacher called Pure Food and Wine.

Thus began my 2 and a half year dance with raw foods and aggressive cleansing.


BEING "RAW"

Eating a raw vegan diet (and all the lifestyle choices that went along with it) taught me a great deal about discipline. Once I got into it, it had its own momentum. I didn't really want or feel I needed "cooked" food.

On the other hand, I went from being slightly vigilant about my food intake to full on neurotic.* As if eating a diet of salads, fresh juices, nuts and seeds wasn't strict enough, I spent most of my time cleansing on top of it.

I went through weeks of drinking just fresh juice, just smoothies, just watermelon, just greens, and doing well over 15 liver "flushes." Have you ever drunk a half cup of olive oil? Yeah, I have.

I began to chronicle everything I ate in my journal. Did I say journal? I meant journals. Yes, several hundred pages detailing every meal I ate... as well as meal plan ideas for the next day.

My thoughts were totally consumed with food intake.

*P.S. I am not suggesting that all raw vegans are neurotic or have an eating disorder. Eating raw food happened to feature in my food neurosis, but it could have been any other diet. 


FACING THE FACTS

By the end of 2 and a half years, I had to face the facts: it was the idea, not the feeling, of being raw vegan, that kept me going.

The idea behind eating raw vegan was to feel vibrant, alive, and energized.

Instead, I felt sluggish and alienated from society.

My acne had reappeared, my digestion had come to a grinding halt, I couldn't eat or drink anything without feeling bloated and tired, and the only people I socialized with were fellow raw foodies.

I also became obsessed with trying to feel as "light" as possible. To that end, I tried to see how little I could eat in a day.

Times when I did eat until I was full, I forced myself to throw up several times because the feeling of being "full" became an uncomfortable sensation.


WHY REVERT?

Integrating cooked and processed foods back into my diet was really difficult. And the casual health food nut reader might think: why would you want to eat processed foods again?

The answer is simple: for all the physical "junk" I avoided not eating pizza, or even steamed broccoli, I was gaining some serious mental weight. As I got more into yoga, I realized that thoughts can be even more toxic than the way we process food.

It was time to come to some dietary balance and mental peace.


A CAPACITY FOR CHANGE

That was when Kundalini Yoga walked into my "perfect" world of nutrition.

Have you ever done Kundalini Yoga?

Prior to participating in my first Kundalini Yoga class at the Golden Bridge in Los Angeles, I was a hard core vinyasa (hatha) yogi. I attended classes that made me sweat puddles. I was in the best physical shape of my life. After all, how could I not be—with that much exercise and eating only raw vegan food?

It wasn't until I started Kundalini Yoga that I experienced how a spiritual practice could positively transform my entire life. Funny enough, thanks to eating raw foods, I was prepared for the kind of discipline this involved. (After all, what's waking up at 3am, when you've had to make every single meal for yourself from scratch for 2 and a half years?)

There were specific events that led to the slow break-down of my neurosis around food, but without the tools I was learning (and applying) in my Kundalini Yoga practice, I probably would have resisted every one of them. Instead, I was able to transmute said events into opportunities for change.


EXCLUSION AND REVELATION

I think the breaking point of my "perfect" diet was this:

The Golden Bridge was having a private teachers lunch at Gurmukh's house one day. Because I had subbed a few of the children's classes, I was invited!

Did I go?

No. I opted out because I was on yet another cleanse.

Days later I thought to myself:
"What are you doing? You just turned down the opportunity to spend personal time with some of the leading spiritual teachers in Los Angeles and you opted out because you were on a diet? How is this enriching your life exactly?"
I had no response for myself.


BACK TO THE OTHER AISLES IN THE GROCERY STORE

The weeks that followed were filled with guilt-ridden mini-trips to a local Whole Foods. There I purchased such forbidden victuals as organic ketchup, vegan cheese and, dear God, sprouted organic bread.

It sounds absurd, but I felt really naughty. And I had to make "mini-trips" because I couldn't bring myself to purchase more than a few such evil items at one time. Also, spending less time shopping meant a decreased chance of running into people I knew who might judge the contents of my cart.


FEAR. FEAR. FEAR.

I feared so many things transitioning out of 100% raw veganism.

I feared getting fat.

I feared that going back to eating cooked food would reverse all that I had worked for—both physically and emotionally. Raw foods and yoga had helped me overcome several ailments including hypothyroidism and severe mood disorders.

I feared getting depressed.

Thankfully, nothing but some neurotic thoughts occurred as a result of changing my diet. It took a period of about 2 years, but eventually, my ability to digest food returned.


BACK TO BALANCE

Since then, I have gradually gotten out of the habit of maniacally monitoring my food intake.

The two things I credit the most for this change are my Kundalini Yoga practice and my husband.

In 2009 I recorded a song called "Bliss," which used this mantra:
"I am the light of my soul. I am beautiful. I am bountiful. I am bliss. I am. I am." 
Repeating this mantra during recording and on tour was perhaps the most healing thing I could have done for myself. Through it, I developed a love for my self that was not dependent on how I looked or how "good" I was in my eating habits. I learned to unconditionally love myself.

My marriage has reinforced this love.

My husband told me once when I was complaining about my weight that he couldn't imagine me being any thinner. He liked me this way. It doesn't sound that ground-breaking to retell it, but in the moment, it was just the thing to break me from my spell.

Looking back, my journey with food was based on an idea that there was a pre-requisite to being loved: I had to be perfect. 

My husband's off-hand comment (which he didn't even remember when I reminded him later) made me realize that there is nothing I had to become to deserve love. I had made it all up!


TODAY

Today I have a very healthy relationship with food. I have read so many articles, so many books on food I might as well have become a nutritionist or health coach.

For this reason, I am confident about my food choices, and I don't always select the healthiest option.

I believe in the power of good diet, but I also know what happens when there is too much focus on "perfect" eating.

So many other factors contribute to our health: laughter, love, community, faith...

MY CONCLUSION

In trying to consume the "perfect" diet so I could become the ME I would finally love, I now realize I was going about it totally backwards.

What I know now is that as a result of deeply connecting to the ME inside of this body (through my yoga practice), I am now actually selecting the "perfect" foods. They are perfect not because I read they were, or because someone very thin endorsed them.

They are perfect because I choose them in that moment, because I consume them without stress, and in the company of those I love.

In my humble opinion, there can be no diet more perfect than that.


Love,
Sirgun




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Other 50%



Sat Naam,

Today we accomplished something I cannot fully fathom: over half my new album campaign is now successfully funded!!!!

Funded, I might add, by the contributions of people who have heard my voice, trusted my intention, and have so generously offered to be a part of this endeavor.

Not only that...

Funded, by the prayers, faith, and encouragement of all the people who believe in this project.

The power of the human spirit to call forth the seemingly impossible is miraculous. Wahe Guru!


:: THE HARDEST PART ::

The hardest part about all this for me was overcoming my doubts.

Dare I ask for this much assistance?

$15,000 is not a small sum for me.

Being a musician, a lot seems to boil down to: is this really useful?

In other professions, the answer is quite a bit more obvious. Yes, learning to suture a wound is useful, oh doctor. Yes, fixing our toilet is useful, oh plumber. Yes, making dinner is useful, oh chef.

Can music be useful?

To be honest, that is the main reason my heart is so committed to devotional chant. Simply put, I believe it is useful. I see the healing taking place in myself when I sing it. I hear the feedback. I read the thank you notes.

It isn't just an indulgent use of my God-given ability to sing, or an opportunity to put all my neurotic thoughts to melody. This kind of music can be a service to others.

That's why I admire all those who do this professionally.

And that's why I think the world needs more chant artists.

It's USEFUL.

The world needs to open up and chant!


Anyway, that's my POV.


Thank you so so so so so much!

Here's a thank you video to those who claimed it as a "reward" on my website. I am sending you so much gratitude! I hope your world sparkles with the same abundance you have provided!


Love,
Sirgun

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sing Out!


The most excellent thing about devotional chant is that it is INCLUSIVE. Either call-response or sing-along. We are all in it together... which is why it seems very natural to ask people to participate from the beginning of the album process.

If you'd like to participate in creating the new album, here are 3 ways you do that:

1) Pre-purchase the new album on my website

 2) "Join" and "Invite Friends" to my facebook event

 3) "Like" my facebook fan page


Thank you for singing along!

Blessings,
Sirgun

http://sirgunkaur.com/newalbum

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Going to Take a Village

As of last night, my new album campaign is 42% complete! Want to participate?

It's going to take a village to make this album!




Love,
Sirgun



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ung Sung Wahe Guru

This mantra means...

every cell in my being vibrates to the frequency of God

OR

every cell in my being vibrates with Divine Love

OR

everything is awesome!


I love this mantra. 


Love,
Sirgun

Friday, November 2, 2012

Spirit Voyage is Spreading the Word!


{This article was first published on Spirit Voyage Blog, 11/2/12. Written by Sirgun Kaur.} 
Sat Naam Spirit Voyager,
My name is Sirgun Kaur. Last year, I recorded a collaborative album with my friend Sat Darshan Singh called The Music Within. For Summer 2013, my dream is to release my first solo album of sweet, fun, and uplifting mantra melodies.
And it’s going to take a whole kirtan-loving village to make it happen!
We have already started recording and have completed 32% of the funding, thanks to independent contributions from people like you!Find out how you can get involved here.
A Little Background... or “Why Record My Music?”
The power of recorded music is almost unfathomable. For example, while my touring was restricted to the West Coast and Southwest of the USA this year, my voice got to travel the world! If you attended a White Tantric Yoga event in 2011-2012, you probably heard my version of “I Am the Light of My Soul” (or “Bliss”) being played during the breaks. When Sat Darshan Singh and I recorded our album last year, we had no idea this track would tour more than we did.
That’s the beauty of an album: it exists beyond the time and space in which it was created. It is boundless and limitless—like our true nature—able to travel the world in a second, without need for a passport, plane ticket, or visa.
Yogi Bhajan often spoke about the importance of leaving a legacy behind us. Experiencing the powerful effects of Kundalini Yoga mantras each time I lead kirtan continually reinforces my desire to leave behind a legacy of healing recorded music.
Introducing Ram Dass—Producer Extraordinaire
For this reason, I have just started recording my first solo kirtan album with Ram Dass Khalsa. If you heard Nirinjan Kaur’s new CD “Prem Siri”, you have heard his work. Other album credits include Prabhu Nam’s Seasons of the Soul,” as well as his own masterpiece, “The Alchemists Prayer.” He is also producing Snatam Kaur’s long-awaited children’s album—to be released soon.
My album will be a combination of meditative mantras and songs, mostly from the Kundalini Yoga tradition, with the exception of one song that I wrote based on The Lord's Prayer called “Amen.”
How Co-Creation Works
Because recording is a costly affair, I love the idea of making it a community event. People who would purchase the CD anyway have an opportunity to be actively involved in its creation from the start. You can pre-purchase the album for just $11, and participate for as little as $1. Any amount is meaningful in bringing this music to life.
For greater contributions, there are greater rewards—including the opportunity to be listed as a co-, senior-, or executive- producer of the album! Some other “rewards” include a song written for you, long-distance Reiki treatments, an invitation to the first listening party, stickers, and so much more!
5 Reasons to Participate
1. You’ll be actively involved in the creation of this album, not just a listener!
2. If you choose the advance digital download, you’ll get the album before it’s official release! (You can select this option at any reward level—just let me know you prefer mp3)
3. I will list you as a “contributor” on my website for contributing any amount over $1!
4. Yogi’s Law: Giving increases prosperity!
5. You’ll have bragging rights for years: “I co-created that album!”
Thank you for reading and for considering being part of this project!
Many blessings,
Sirgun
The Music Within by Sat Darshan Singh and Sirgun Kaur

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dusting Off the Soul

In my spiritual path of Sikhism there is a notion that to be truly "clean" is an act of remembrance, not just of personal hygiene.

When we remember who we are, the "dirt" of conventions, popular opinion, judgement, etc. does not cling to us... or at least it becomes easier to wipe off.

This remembrance is something we can always come back to when things get hectic. There are so many opportunities in our day when we can forget that we are made of God, that we come from God, and that we are One with God.

One of the best ways to remember is to chant!

We can resonate such beautiful sound inside the hollows of our body. It makes ripples in the water we are made of. It changes the frequency of our though patterns. We become lighter and more sensitive to the space between the space—the ether.

Music is so amazing. So amazing. So amazing.

I remember this each time I sing.


Blessings,
Sirgun

http://sirgunkaur.com/newalbum


Friday, October 26, 2012

Artwork & Inspiring Quotes RECEIPT


Thought I'd jazz-up the FUNdraising a bit and make some artsy receipts.

When you pre-purchase the new album tomorrow night at SWIHA ("Ignite the Light) or Nov. 10 at Yoga Phoenix, you won't get a copy of the CD immediately (patience, patience... coming Summer 2013).

BUT you will get one of 5 different quote cards, with this message on the back:

"I lovingly contributed $______ to Sirgun Kaur's New Album Campaign!"

I think getting something right away is pretty fun.

=),
Sirgun

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Longtime Sun

One of the tracks that I'll be putting on my new album is the traditional closing song to a Kundalini Yoga class: The Longtime Sun.

When I did teacher training in New Mexico a few years ago, I must admit, I got really tired of singing this song.

As I grow as a teacher I've come to appreciate it more and more.

So I wrote my own version... (I'll post a video soon).


BLESSINGS ON YOUR WAY

To me, the song is a sweet melodic send-off. It is not just sung for the people in the room, but for anyone we might be holding in our hearts, or keeping in our thoughts. It is a prayer of well-being and happiness for those we love to love, and for those whom we might find a challenge to love.

Ending the class in this way, gives us the opportunity to be thankful for the work we did, and send that healing energy beyond the yoga studio.


TRADITION

There is something to be said for songs that everyone can sing along to. As silly as some songs may be, there is a bonding that happens when we all know them. The Beatles wrote so many of these kinds of songs. Their music had the added benefit of being really sweet to listen to, not just easy sing-along music.

No matter where you are in the world, if you take a Kundalini Yoga class, you know you'll be tuning in with the Adi Mantra (i.e. "Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo") and closing the class with the Longtime Sun. In a few classes, you'll get to know the lyrics well.

If you don't already. Here you go:

May the longtime sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on

Beautiful, right?

And what a great way to end this blog.




May the longtime sun shine upon YOU and YOU and YOU,
Sirgun

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Being OK with Not Being OK

I think I've gotten into the not-so-amazing habit of pretending that everything is OK all the time. Actually, not just OK, but GREAT. In a sense, that's always the truth. Everything is always—in essence—great!

On another level, part of being truthful (with myself and others) is calling a bad day a "bad day." It doesn't have to be a big deal. That's just where I happen to be.


WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS OK?
(on the bright side of things)

I have had a number of experiences, whether in daily life or in deep meditation, that assure me that, underneath it all, everything is actually perfect.

What I am feeling on a "bad day" is happening inside me. It is not a crack in the fabric of existence that needs to be fixed. It's not a big deal. And nothing further is required on my part besides accepting my feelings in that moment, not getting upset with myself for it, and allowing myself to let go.


CHANGE IS CONSTANTLY GETTING ITS WAY (or in the way?)...


The process of being OK with my own emotions is, in my experience, the hardest part of having any.

It feels like I accidentally invited the monster over for tea again.

The internal conversation usually goes like this:

Why do I keep calling him? What is wrong with me? Where did I get his number anyway? I don't even think he likes tea...

Instead of talking directly to him:

I seem to have invited you today, but it's probably best you leave. 

Ok, neither of these solutions is any less crazy, but the latter allows for some order in this neurotic scenario.

Emotions are by their very nature changeable. It's unrealistic to assume that they will stay the same. And it's self-defeating to blame myself when they live up to their nature.

The monster comes over for tea to see how I will react. When it stops being a problem, he stops coming over.

Or maybe he just comes over to clean the house... I haven't gotten that far yet.


WHAT TO DO?

It's not always easy to predict what helps in these situations.

The other day, I sat outside in our backyard and sang to myself for about an hour. That felt good. So did the yoga practice I did straight after. So did the relaxation I did after that... yeah, that was a good day. 

As much as yogic philosophy encourages me to meditate before I speak about what I'm feeling, I must admit: I am a Western woman. Nothing is quite as satisfying (at least at the moment) as venting my emotions. Sometimes that means bringing up an issue with my husband, which he loves... naturally (wink).  Sometimes it means channeling that emotion into a physical activity, or writing a blog.

Yes, this feels so good. 

As I get better at dealing with unexpected emotions, I try to restrict my venting to a limited number of trustworthy females. Not all listeners are created equal.


NOT SO FAST, NOT SO SLOW...

In the end though, an emotion is not something we should fear or aim to quickly disgard.

The process of dealing with an emotion is a difficult, yet essential, part of letting it go.

When we reject the emotion, like the monster, it will undoubtedly come back for tea. On the other hand, if we become overly fascinated with the emotion, it will start to color our self-concept. Instead of being just "an emotion," it will become "part of me." That's not ideal either.

The thing to do, which is most uncomfortable (of course) is to allow the emotion to do its work: point us in the right direction, evolve into an epiphany, illuminate something we weren't seeing clearly.

Allowing it to exist, while simultaneously giving myself some distance from it, is a pretty brilliant feat. I must admit, I have not mastered this yet.

However, when I am able to do this, the feeling of depression uplifts itself, transmuting itself into a powerful blessing.

I find this really hard to remember in the moment. Every day is an opportunity for improvement though.


Live and let flow!


Blessings,
Sirgun

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wahe Guru: The Most Versatile Kundalini Mantra


Article by Sirgun Kaur, originally published on SPIRIT VOYAGE BLOG—October 8, 2012
Of all the mantras in Kundalini Yoga, the most versatile one is surely “Wahe Guru.” The way I usually describe it to audiences when I’m leading kirtan is: an exclamation of unfathomable ecstasy. That’s one definition, but there are many other occasions when this all-purpose mantra is just the thing to say.
1. S#!t Yogis Say:
Whether you’ve just stubbed your toe or got fired from your job, there are times when we use not-so-yogic-words in our life. There’s nothing wrong with using swear words per se (though I don’t recommend teaching your little ones just yet), but admittedly, they don’t do much besides let off a little steam. The next time you want to scream out in frustration or anger, try consciously screaming “Wahe Guru!” instead. After all, only the Universe knows why this is happening to you, and only the Universe can get you out of it. Call out to the ultimate force governing everything and remember: the things that seem to be falling apart in our lives tend to leave a void for the beauty about to enter. Wahe Guru for that!
Music to help you remember to say “Wahe Guru” instead:

Good Company by Satkirin Kaur Khalsa

Yoga of Sound - Cherdi Kala, the Ever Rising Spirit by Mata Mandir Singh
2. Better than Counting Sheep:
Is it just me, or was counting sheep some of the least hepful anti-insomnia advice ever given? I’ve also tried counting blessings, which happens to be a beautiful practice in my waking hours, but not all that lulling when I’m trying to turn my mind OFF at night. Something that had worked magically though, is repeating “Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru...” I do it as many times on one breath as possible (if I’m alone), or just repeat an endless stream in my head (if my husband is asleep next to me). Pretty soon, I’m asleep and (probably) snoring. Wahe Guru!
Music to lull you to sleep:
Ashana’s “Jewels of Silence”on Jewels of Silence—You can mentally chant “Wahe Guru” to the healing sounds of singing bowls

Jewels of Silence by Ashana
3. When We Just Barely Pull It Off:
Ever pull something off that seems like it had little to do with you at all? You manage to make it to your doctor’s appointment on time, in traffic, when you left the house 15 minutes later than you should have? You burned every dish you cooked for a dinner party, but people mysteriously thought it was a potluck and brought enough food for everyone? If I happen to get complimented for something I know I had almost no part in I like to remember to say “Wahe Guru” instead of “thank you.” That way, I can acknowledge their gratitude, without accepting any credit for the miracle that just took place.... just amazement and thanks for how well things turned out!
Music to help you appreciate the moment:
Nirinjan Kaur's “Ether Tattva Waheguru Mantra” on Prem Siri

Prem Siri by Nirinjan Kaur

3 Ways to Find Freedom with Kundalini Yoga


Article by Sirgun Kaur, originally published on SPIRIT VOYAGE BLOG—September 24, 2012

Freedom is our birthright. Yet, as we grow older, the structure of our lives can make us feel less than footloose and fancy-free. With more responsibilities, obligations, and people who depend on us, we may start to feel nostalgic for those childhood days when nothing held us down.  Remembering that we are spiritual beings living a life on Earth is not always enough to lift the “weight” of daily existence. I’d like to share someKundalini yoga practices that help me tap into my unlimited and free self, even when my schedule would have me feeling otherwise.

1. Liberation Kriya:

Nothing makes me feel more trapped and small than being stuck in a repetitive pattern. A few years ago I could not seem to get out of a certain relationship I was in. We just kept going around in circles like characters on a sitcom that never seemed to really “end it” because the writers have to keep both actors on the show somehow. When I saw this video of Gurmukh teaching Liberation Kriya, I decided to commit for 40 days. I was blown away by the results. Somewhere around 30 days I was able to end the relationship and never look back. The kriya helped me cut through all the mental nonsense that was keeping me from just walking away. When I finally did, it felt so good!


2. Maximize Your FREE Time with Mantra:

Let’s face it: living on Planet Earth can feel a little heavy sometimes. With so many “real life” things happening so quickly, it’s hard to maintain a blissful state 100% of the time. When we are meditating regularly at home, or going to a class on a regular basis, some of the weight naturally falls off. We know this. Yet, sometimes there seems to be so little free time. Thank goodness for mantra! The next time you are having a not-so-free day, remember the mantra: Ang Sang Wahe Guru. Chant it loud to align yourself with the vibration of feeling completely unlimited, knowing you are inextricably linked to Source. If you are at your office, listen through headphones.

Music Recommendations:



Flow by Sat Kartar



Golden by Jai Kartar



Kundalini Beat Double Album by Dev Suroop Kaur Khalsa

3. Clean Your Aura:

How New Age did that sound? Seriously though, sometimes we aren’t really struggling with the weight of our own world, but the weight of all the people we deal with in a day. The best thing to make sure you know where you begin and the other person ends is to cultivate a strong auric body. There is a great set in Dr. Siri Atma Khalsa’s book Waves of Healing  to help you strengthen this important light body. One of the easiest ways of the wiping the auric slate clean though, is just to get in some water. So, now you have get another reason to take a bath, a shower, or jump in the pool at the end of the day!


Waves of Healing by Siri Atma S. Khalsa, MD

May this help you to rediscover the free, unencumbered YOU! Sat Nam!

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