Yesterday I headed over by the Rose Bowl, hoping to find a spot I could do my yoga around the golf course behind it. I was headed up to an event at Art Center College of Design later, and remembered there being a nice park or open spaces by the golf course when I drove my aunt around it, or parked ON the golf course during a 4th of July event there. Well, there’s a running track around it, but the golf course is well fenced in, and the “Walk In Cafe” had a pedestrian gate, but it was locked. I got snotty responses from the race walkers when I asked if they knew any openings in the fence, and finally just parked under a tree across from the golf course.
I did the next meditation sitting in the car, the “Meditation to Change Poverty Into Prosperity.” Basically this (p. 260 Master’s Touch) just repeats the 25th pauri of japji for 28 minutes then another 10 minutes, partly chanted, partly listened to silently. I’ve done this meditation many times, and frankly, I’ve grown to think it’s a waste of time. There are many claims that the 25th pauri is the prosperity pauri; another suggestion of Yogi Bhajan is to chant it eleven times during times of extreme financial stress. Well, I can see the point of focusing on God as the source of all good and bad in our lives, but I think it’d be more worthwhile to chant that in English. I’ve memorized this pauri, and never had any tangible results from it.
For the last 40 days I’ve been chanting a “prosperity kriya,” and talking about any signs that it might be working, but it’s interesting to recall that I didn’t come to Kundalini Yoga expecting miracle prosperity cures. In fact, that’s sort of far afield from what I was looking for. But it’s certainly sidetracked me, as have many of the “promises” in various meditations and kriyas. I read somewhere there were various reasons people come to do yoga, and one of them was to acquire wealth. That might be in Patanjali’s Sutras, I don’t remember, but I was surprised to see that listed.
In high school, 1979-80, we had a teacher who taught us Hatha Yoga, a student of Yogi Shanti Desai. That was my ticket into this crazy party. Earlier attempts to interest me in yoga were met with my complete disinterest. But suddenly I somehow wanted to know about Kundalini Yoga, and there was no place to find out information. On another front, the other kids were starting to be sexually active, and I didn’t want to just get laid, I wanted to know about tantra! It was harder to learn about the latter, but not as difficult as finding anything worthwhile about Kundalini Yoga. Most people thought my interests a bit weird, but I was at an off-beat hippie high school, and with other classmates living in teepees, wigwams, cabins, and even art school lockers, my interests were not subjected to much wider scrutiny. (Yes, you read that right – living in art lockers. Which was sort of cool!) I found Swami Sivananda Radha’s “Kundalini Yoga For the West,” but it’s pretty much a worthless pile of gibberish and doesn’t explain any yoga sets to do.
I discovered Kundalini Yoga years later, one night in the early 1990′s when I was depressed, walking around Manhattan, and wandered into the Open Center’s bookstore, where I found one of Ravi Singh’s manuals. My depression lifted, and it wasn’t long before I was somewhat fanatical about practicing it. But I couldn’t afford classes at that time. I took a couple, but was quite happy practicing on my own. I started doing Kundalini Yoga to make my body feel better.
So yesterday, I was frustrated that I felt like my body needed some physical yoga and I was doing this stupid meditation that I’d learned from experience was worthless. Along the same lines, the Aad Guray Namay mantra is supposed to be recited before you start your car for protection from accidents. Once I was continuing to chant it while driving when I got rear-ended by another driver, who turned out to be uninsured. I still chant it when I start my car. Am I stupid? Perhaps. There’s the usual new age spiritual argument; it’s probably my bad karma; it probably would’ve been a horrible accident if I hadn’t been chanting that, etc. There’s also a story about several people who get a huge amount of wealth, but one gets a small amount, and it turns out it’s because his karma from his previous life meant he owed somebody a lot of money and didn’t pay them. Blah blah blah.
So obviously, I have a huge karmic debt from my previous life. Either that, or I’m really out-of-touch with reality and putting a huge amount of energy into yogic meditations instead of practical activity that might lead to earning more. To me, prosperity isn’t just about greed, it’s about the ability to contribute to the world and participate fully in it, and the ability to support myself is a part of that. Blowing an hour doing a meditation that doesn’t do anything is barely a step above watching trash on TV.
The meditation is supposed to have a break in the middle; I did a few sun salutations. After it, you’re supposed to do some Bhangra dancing; I did, for a few minutes, on my mat next to the car, with my mat in the dirt. Those both helped my state of mind a bit.
Well, as my skepticism bolstered, and my mind kept digging up evidence of past paltry results, I tried to focus on gratitude; I HAD found a nice shady spot to park in, it was a nice day, I got a ticket to an event which I thought had sold out, etc. That focus kept getting challenged, however.
I got to the event, and although many of these events have nice catered food beforehand, there was just chips, nuts, and soda. The headhunter who sponsored the event was rather stand-offish, and while I’d seen a webpage where they encourage people to submit portfolios, she said they weren’t accepting any. It was so noisy in the lobby I could barely talk to or hear her. The meditation really didn’t leave me feeling at all out-going either. The presentation wasn’t too remarkable. By the time I left I felt like I’d wasted my evening. But – oh boy – I found a box of pencils some art student had dropped in the parking lot. They apparently cost $12.60, but I like to write with pens, thank you very much. True, the view from the hill was spectacular and I had a nice drive back, exploring another road through the hills between La Canada and Glendale.
I got an enormous watermelon on the way home at a dumpy Vons Grocery store in Glendale near Atwater Village; the manager was grumpy; the cashier seemed to be too, but I tried to be friendly, and I think she appreciated that and seemed happier afterwards.
So – today. Happy Summer Solstice, huh? My body was feeling really crummy and run-down this morning when I got up, but after I ate a big slab of watermelon, I felt much better. I felt significantly better after I did some physical yoga again.
The “Seat of Power” set had actually sort of aggravated my neck and shoulder a bit; I must’ve been using those muscles to do the plough poses instead of my “powerhouse” as we call the abs/hips in Pilates. They’re still bugging me a bit, even after doing the 7th Gate Set again, this time for the full suggested durations of each exercise.
I just looked at my calendar again, and realized 3HO’s Solstice festivities start TODAY, not last Saturday. I guess all the White Tantric Yoga will happen AFTER solstice this year. Today is peace prayer day. The first year I worked there, I tuned Marshall Rosenberg’s guitar before he received the Peace Award, but had no idea who he was. I arrogantly felt a bit snide that he didn’t know how to tune it himself. Since then I’ve come across his name and principles again and again, in use with the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) and being taught in Santa Cruz above the Quaker Meeting House there. Whether he could tune his guitar or not, he’s done a lot to help people communicate effectively, and it’s sure not worth judging him on his music education.
As tonight wore on, I discovered my cranky negativity melting away, and my interactions with people seemed to have that bizarre magnetic intensity that can only be brought on by this 7th Gate Set; almost as if I’m communicating with people’s spirit, but the words we’re exchanging don’t really matter that much. I went to a mime performance with my 86 year old neighbor. She asked how I was, and I responded, “sort of cranky!” She asked if she should leave me alone then, as we were driving in her car down the freeway, and I said, “absolutely not – you’re cheering me up.” The performance at the Frida Kahlo Theater had wonderfully evocative improvised music by Geoff Hartmann with Annie Liu on Chinese Zither. Asian music has not particularly moved me in the past, but it did tonight. Rick Shope, a former student of Marcel Marceau and former longtime educator at JPL, runs participatory mime science education workshops for kids, currently at the Whittier Narrows Nature Center – a program called EcoVoices. We talked at length with the performers and founder of the theater, a former dance classmate of my neighbor, who’s built the beautiful little theater almost from the ground up.
Now, again, it’s gotten late, and I wonder whether to change to another meditation since I’ve done 40 days of “Har” and aired my skepticism of meditation for prosperity again. I have another potential meditation in mind, but until I’m sure, I may as well do Har for one more day and call it a night.