Plowing Through Slumps

Well, frankly, the last few days I’ve just been depressed. It’s seeming like one of those times when I come up with every rationale for why Kundalini Yoga is just a waste of time, a diversion from the things I really need to be doing (but am not doing either) and is not helping me make a living in any way. I did five days of Sadhana, and then the next day couldn’t bring myself to get up. I’ve been tired a lot, and stressed out.

Today I was feeling toxic; tired and lethargic and didn’t really want to do anything or deal with anybody. But Paul is visiting and invited himself over, then we didn’t go to the Lake Shrine because he didn’t want to deal with LA traffic. Generally I’ve found an energetic set will blast through that, once I can bring myself to sit down and do it. But often it can take the whole day to reach that point if I don’t do it in the morning – and I hadn’t. So it wasn’t until about 4PM that I got to it, and then procrastinated on one of the Facebook Kundalini Yoga groups a bit, posting some info for other folk. 5:30PM I started the “Exercise Set for Metabolic Change” from “Kundalini Yoga for Youth and Joy,” which it appears they’ve finally re-issued. It was listed on the Ancient Healing Ways site, anyway.

Gurmukh used to do this set frequently, although I don’t remember ever doing the whole duration of the exercises. You’re supposed to dance with your eyes closed for 20 minutes to Don Cooper’s “Twelve Months” which only seems to be available on cassette from Ancient Healing Ways, but I discovered it was somehow related to Bara Maha, and found an Indian version that seemed a lot like something you’d dance to at a Greek Restaurant. I even did the full bowing 31 minute version of Jaap Sahib at the end (“will build stamina and inexhaustible energy”). Then I collapsed and slept an hour and a half. All the usual delusions throughout; oh, this isn’t so bad – I’ve got this down! I can do this forever! Minutes later, I can’t do another single one! Then, deciding to stick with it since I got this far and want to see what it’s like to do the full duration.

So after I got up, I was a little less depressed, but it’s edging back in. And it’s 11PM already. The weekend has slipped away.

Dear Abbey: Everyone in my cult is healthier than everybody else I know.

So I made it to sadhana three days in a row. Didn’t get much else done the last two days, though.

Keval led today and Monday. Today we did a set for the immune system. Then once we did long “Eck Ong Kars” I did the “Adjust Your Flow” set while chanting.

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I just do each of the four sections for 7 minutes – the length of each chant – but once again did 7 minutes of “Mental Exercises” during “Rakhe Rakanhaar” and then finished the last section for 7 minutes of “Wahe Guru, Wahe Jeo” and finished the last 14 minutes the way you’re supposed to. I suppose I’m a bit defiant, unwilling to be an obedient little yogi who does what he’s told. Yogi Bhajan says somewhere, “all your troubles in life come from not doing ‘Wahe Guru, Wahe Jeo’ in the proper pose for the proper length of time.” Oh well. Well, frankly, my lower back – or liver or kidney or something – ends up hurting when I do.

Yesterday I found myself feeling like I was trying to get attention by doing the mental exercises set, and wanting to show off what a perfect yogi I am so somebody would notice. That and also wishing somebody would notice how I can do Japji without reading it. Never mind that I couldn’t do that without a recitation to follow along with. So much for cutting through spiritual materialism. But it’s interesting how the whole purpose of sadhana is to cultivate a focus on God, and I’m still too restless and impatient to just sit and do that, needing something to focus on and distract my mind from the actual meaning of the chanting. If only I could bring that approach into my work life, doing my work to cultivate a connection with God, but letting the work distract me from it in the course of it, until I don’t need to distract myself from it anymore.

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I had a weird dream last night. There was this yogic saint in this outside garden, sort of like the Japanese Garden by Balboa Lake. I didn’t want to encounter him directly, or speak with him, sort of like I never wanted to talk to Yogi Bhajan, but he’d answer the questions I had without asking him them, just sitting there in the group. So I’m avoiding the saint. Blair Breard was there too, we were walking around the garden. Then there was this buffet, and I get this flimsy paper plate, and I start loading it with meat in gravy, and cauliflower and chick peas in sauce, and rice and other stuff, and the plate is collapsing, and I look around to find a sturdier plate, and find a little cardboard carton that fits right under it to support it, and just as I do that, the woman who was serving the saint, whom I realized was Lahiri Mahasaya after I woke up, started apologizing to him for serving him meat. He walked over to her, and focused on her, looking into her eyes, and she walked away in a daze, aimlessly wandering around in a state of dumb bliss.

Then I woke up, feeling a lot more peaceful than I usually do, and not as knotted up. It sort of felt like a visitation, and left me wondering about reading the Self Realization Fellowship lessons that I haven’t made time for, but it was just time to go to sadhana, and in a minute, the alarm went off. I actually took a cold shower like you’re supposed to this morning too. But I had a lot of mucous in the back of my throat which kept making me cough.

This is just slightly more interesting than the presidential and vice presidential debates, I’m sure. So now the 10% of the day given to God is all up, and what the fuck do I do next?

Oatmeal isn’t too interesting without the Ume plum in it. I didn’t realize how much that added to the flavor of it until it was missing. I only had 3-1/2 hours of sleep… I wonder if I should nap, get the rest, or try to keep going throughout the day. There’s a rehearsal in Culver City tonight at 7:30PM. How will I keep going? I just made a very un-yogic pot of coffee too. So much for the PSN – Post Sadhana Nap.

Meanwhile, I contemplate that job opening listed at Sounds True in Boulder. I don’t really want to move. During sadhana I was wondering about all the things that have happened here in LA since I decided not to pursue the job in Espanola working with IKYTA. I feel a stronger calling to OneTaste – to at least find out if it’s all my mind has made it up to be. But then, the bay area? It leaves me thinking about the people who come to LA wanting to be actors and then don’t have the courage to go to auditions, and eventually realize they haven’t become actors.

I haven’t done any worthwhile musical endeavors while I’ve lived in this apartment, which has been 7 years now. That’s disheartening. There’s this dichotomy between spiritual calling, spiritual support for the rest of my life, and spirituality as avoidance of responsibility.

Dear Abbey:

Everyone in my cult is healthier than everybody else I know. Some of them even have jobs. My friends don’t understand why I’m in it. Should I leave it?

It’s funny the whole idea of the Kundalini Yoga teacher who’s out to convert the whole world and get them to try it. I find that funny because I keep trying and people are never interested. I guess I’m not a born salesperson? But it struck me this morning how it’s probably a much better approach to try to find the people who ARE interested, and stick with them. Somebody was talking in a podcast about relationships how trying to change people to be the way you want them to be is “an act of aggression.” Interesting perspective, and food for thought on the nature of acceptance. But then, what about the people who might be interested in kundalini yoga but just haven’t discovered it yet, just because they haven’t been looking in the right places? Hmmm.

Sadhana and the “Mental Exercises” set

So, I haven’t posted here for a while. I guess it feels like my practice has been on a “Maintenance” basis; like when I can’t stand the pain anymore I dive back in. I recommitted to sadhana for about a week and a half a couple weeks back, and then one night I said, “to hell with it; I’m not going tomorrow.” Since then it’s been hard to get back in the groove.

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But a funny thing happened one of those days. I remembered Gurushabd saying one day after Sadhana (years ago) that he was going on his morning walk, and I’d been recounting Julia Cameron’s admonition to take a daily walk to improve your life, and I thought I’d give it a try.

At sadhana that morning, the yoga leader was subbing for Gurushabd, so I figured he was out-of-town. I went up Beachwood Canyon to the ranch where the Hollywood sign trail starts, and found the gate hadn’t been opened yet. I hiked for about 45 minutes, and as I neared the parking lot again, I saw what appeared to be a turbaned man approaching. As he came into focus, sure enough, it was Gurushabd! There’s a 3HO song “Walking Up The Mountain” that comes to mind. I was so astonished at the coincidence that I didn’t mention he’d been a partial inspiration for the walk.

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Last week I was feeling stuck, and stuff wasn’t getting done. I figured sadhana might be a way to jump-start the path to getting back on track. Gurushabd was leading that morning (it seemed he played Jap Sahib instead of Japji at sadhana… I was a bit late and only heard the end of it) Well, I headed home afterwards, and had one of the most productive days I’ve had in months.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and headed over for it, and Keval was leading. It was an interesting set that had a sequence that’s in one of the kidney sets included, but after long Eck Ong Kars I just went right to sleep. I hope I wasn’t snoring. It’s always funny when somebody snores through sadhana. There was this cricket merrily chanting along with all the chants. Wahe guru!

Kavel gave me a big “HI HIMAT!” as I was struggling to tie my shoes, but all my groggy head could muster was a grumbled “Sat nam…” I came home and slept prolifically.

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Mental Exercises Set (with my clearer layout than the original manual)

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That mental exercises set, from the Fountain of Youth manual, always looked really goofy. You do the sequence of poses to “Rakhe Rakanhaar” for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I kept trying and could never find the un-interrupted time to get the whole time period completed. Finally, one night I said to myself, “I’m going to get through this tonight!” About half-way through, I began to squirm and my mind was looking for every excuse to quit. I’d then ask myself, “but then you’d have given up and will have to start over again. Is that REALLY what you want to do? It’s just one of your patterns of procrastination and avoidance rearing it’s head.” As the time went on, I began to see, clearly, each pattern of procrastination and feel their intense call to distract me from what I was doing.

At sadhana I often try 7 minutes of the set along with the chant, but I figure it’s not intended to be done that way. It does let me re-experience the awareness of those 135 minutes, however. The thing is that many recordings of Rakhe Rakankaar don’t repeat the last phrase properly, so you can’t do the last posture of the sequence.