Golden Bridge Solstice Sadhana, Melting Negativity, Pointing My Steel Fingers, I Sat on my Kriya, Har Har Har

Tuesday I got stuck in traffic as I tried to go to see the movie Maleficent in North Hollywood. Heading from beautiful Bronson Canyon Park to Noho, I wasn’t in the best mood as the day ran later and later and missed my intended screening. But that gave me time to find an Indian grocery store to get mung beans, and discovered one next to the place I always take my recycling for refunds. Reasonably priced Hebrew market adjacent to that too, providing some great pita and spices for chai.

Then I looked on the map for a close park, and ended up near one that was almost all soccer fields. Fine, except there wasn’t anyplace especially nice to do yoga. I finally settled on a tree looking over a fenced in lawn. Kinda nasty, but as I did my Fingers of Steel Kriya and Har meditation, I got to watch squirrels and groundhogs and birds frolic in the field.

2014-06-24-18.45.21 2014-06-24-18.44I sat myself on the far side of this tree to do my kriyas. Even though it’s pretty hot and dry out, it was a bit muddy. But it worked out fine. 2014-06-24-18.45.32 May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you… guide your way on… to the movie theater!
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2014-06-24-18.20.30That night I got to sleep early and woke up in time for sadhana at Golden Bridge. I wasn’t sure if they’d have sadhana while everyone was away at Solstice. I got there a bit late, missed Japji, but caught most of the chanting and interspersed kriyas. A turbaned woman, one of two other attendees, didn’t look too interested in doing the kriyas of Yogi Bhajan recordings during the Wahe Guru Wahe Jeo, and maintained the traditional pose throughout. I was curious to meet the woman who led sadhana but didn’t feel too social. I still wanted to do some more yoga, so I headed to Wattles Park.
2014-06-25-06.44.52
This is where I’ve done my previous yoga there:2014-06-25-06.43.09 2014-06-25-06.43.342014-06-25-06.44.30 2014-06-25-06.44.27 But this is the tree I chose Wednesday morning. In Espanola, everyone was doing their second day of White Tantric Yoga. This day turned out to be my big yoga day for the week. 2014-06-25-06.44.33 As I did my yoga, little bits of pinecones and pine needles dropped on me and my mat. It was early and a few runners and people were out with their dogs. A homeless guy was on the porch of the mansion, and I thought I heard him making some grunting annoyed noises, while I wondered if my chants from the iPhone were annoying him. But I don’t think I was disturbing him. During the day, there have been lots of dog owners on the lawn of the park. 2014-06-25-07.04.58 This was the view looking down the hill to Hollywood; beyond these trees is a community garden. 2014-06-25-07.05.10As my day got busier, I didn’t have time to blog about the sets, so I’m a bit hazy on which I did; I think I did Sat Kriya workout and the meditation to melt negativity. (I’ll have to add pics for that sometime soon) Later, when I got home I finally did then Fingers of Steel and Har meditations.

Later in the day, after eating, I got sort of tired, irritable, and jumpy. But it was a pretty good day, overall.

I continued doing the Fingers of Steel and Har meditations Thursday; I got some hurdles accomplished with a music software project I’ve been chipping away at for ages, turning the enormous books into pdfs with the help of Xerox and USC. A friend helped out greatly in that respect. It felt great to get that done.

Friday I did them again, and began to run around to do some errands. My hips and legs were so sore I could barely run/walk two blocks to the library from where I parked. Then I was stuck in terrible traffic driving around town. I hoped to do a couple sets and my meditations in a small park in Silverlake, but the traffic and parking difficulties didn’t leave much time for it. I ended up doing some Pilates leg circles, Sun Salutations, Bridge/Wheel poses, and then the Fingers of Steel and Har meditations. I was rushing all over that day; the 101 was a parking lot in both directions as I drove over it. But when I headed up near Burbank airport a short time later, I breezed by the jammed traffic in the opposing direction. Nice meeting and dinner with friends that night at Big Boy. I hadn’t had any red meat in a few days. I think it’s becoming less appealing.

Saturday I did Fingers of Steel and Har kriyas again, then played with Brad at Elderberries. Natasha burned her hand badly and I showed her the Ra Ma Da Sa meditation. The next day she said her hand was healed nearly completely. The gig went really well, and they were talking to me about helping “curate” the other music there, or play as a leader instead of a sideman. I’m sort of excited about this possibility. But Saturday evening I went to Target, got some almond milk, and as I was backing out of my parking space, somebody behind me suddenly backed out and hit my car – hard and fast, smashing the tail lights and putting a big dent in the car. We were surprisingly civil with each other, but he wouldn’t admit his fault and even texted later suggesting we “walk away from it” after he did some serious damage to my car and little to his own. Ah well. Insurance claim filed. I’m pretty sure I did the Aad Guray Namay chant right before he hit me. But I couldn’t really remember. It’s pretty much reflex to do it when I fasten my seatbelt now.

Didn’t sleep well last night; woke up too early and tried to go back to sleep instead of sadhana. Then when I got back to sleep, woke up too late and missed the Quaker meeting which I was looking forward to. I’ve been doing a lot of email followup on ride arrangements for people for the upcoming yearly meeting in Marin next month. Later today, another pretty great gig at Elderberries, although the house cleared out while we played and filled up after we finished. Not a good sign. But I got the news today about helping with music there, and they’re asking me to videotape the Ra Ma Da Sa meditation before the next gig Tuesday. We’re discussing having some kirtan in the restaurant – which could be really great as the place has great yogic food offerings and is close to Golden Bridge, also possibly some songwriters I know and maybe some spoken word performers with music.

I did “Har in my car” in the parking lot at Vedanta, and Fingers of Steel under my favorite tree there with a tiny lawn under it. Then at our meditation meeting I did 20 minutes of Karani Kriya, which I hadn’t done for a while. Once again, I’m up late, and it’s looking doubtful I’ll make it to sadhana this morning as I’d hoped earlier. But I caught up on these blog posts. So it goes. Mercury goes direct Tuesday, so I can start signing contracts and traveling safely again, right?

Firing Up The Metabolism, Fingers of Steel Kriya (and video), Har Kriya (and video), Trikutee Kriya Meditation

 

Yogi-Ghostie-Selfie-IMG_4255Yesirree Bob. That’s one helluva ghost-like yogic selfie, eh?

Well, ended up pretty cranky tonight (what else is new?); couldn’t do my yoga before dark like I’d intended to, and then some friends were headed out for late dinner aka fellowship nearly at 10pm, so I headed home instead.  I’d had my solstice onion soup, which really isn’t too good when it’s cooked too long; and some more black peppered watermelon. I need to get some more mung beans, but can’t seem to find time when I’m around the places in town that sell them.

Firing-Up-The-MetabolismI launched into “Firing Up the Metabolism” from Harijot’s “Self Experience” manual. I wanted to exercise my legs before doing the Fingers of Steel Kriya again, because that works the upper body; also needed to cultivate some energy to do the meditations I wanted to do, although it was obviously insane to fire up my metabolism late in the evening after 10pm – might’ve been closer to midnight. As I started it, I got the first two exercises reversed, so I ended up doing one twice as long as you were supposed to. That happened a lot tonight!

I started to do the “Fingers of Steel Kriya” and after nearly completing the first 11 minute tough part, realized it might be a good time to videotape it as well as take images of the postures, which will be added to the last post by the time this post is live. That turned out to be a bit time consuming because the self timer on the camera is easy to forget how to use. Eventually I did it, and am exporting it right now, hopefully in the right format for YouTube. (The last things I uploaded there looked terrible once they’d processed them. Unfortunately I’d already sent the links to the people in them too.)
Fingers of Steel Kriya Video:

Afterwards I reshot the “Harprosperity kriya video with instructions and decent lighting, here it is, but in the end I wasn’t that happy with the encoding – it looks really grainy.

Then I was able to do the Trikutee Kriya (Masters Touch p. 266-267) because I had Japji 30th pauri ready for the meditation. If you’re doing the meditation and would like to hear how it’s pronounced, here’s an mp3 of it by Hari Dharam Kaur Khalsa, from her reading of Nitnem and Japji: http://yoga.destinymanifestation.com/audio/30_Pauri.mp3
I learned japji from reciting it along with her recording; I’ve later grown to love many other  more “melodic” versions, although over the years I’ve come to recognize that there is certainly a musicality in her recitation too. It’s really great for learning it because you can hear how to pronounce everything pretty easily. Like a lot of 3HO recordings, I frequently wonder who these people are, whose recordings have occupied so much of my life. One of the nice things about summer solstice was that I met a lot of these people in person. But I’ve never met Hari Dharam.

There are many recordings of japji, but I don’t know any with the pauris separated like I have done; it took quite a bit of work to cut them up in ProTools and figure out where each one started and ended, referring to the various printed versions.

For some reason a few of the lines were tongue twisters tonight. I thought I knew them, but hadn’t been getting some of the syllables right.

Part 1 for 18-1/2 minutes:Trikutee-1
Part 2 for 5-1/2 minutes:
Trikutee-2
Then I used Wahe Guru Kaur’s “Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Jio” for the 8-1/2 minute third section: Trikutee 3I can’t say I was really thrilled with this set or meditation tonight. But I didn’t dislike it either. It didn’t feel like it opened my chakras like it claims to, but then I kept looking at the words to the pauri instead of the tip of my nose, which interrupted my concentration and focus.

Fourth Chakra 1 Meditation + Fingers of Steel Kriya + Har

Today before the Vedanta meditation meeting I was thinking I might respond a bit defensively to someone there, and didn’t want to. Basically I was afraid I’d act like a jerk or be misunderstood. So I did the 11 minute “Meditation for the Fourth Chakra I” from Harijot Kaur’s “Physical Wisdom” manual on the lawn under this beautiful tree next to the temple. During teacher’s training they said if you speak from the heart center, you can’t be misunderstood. Then I walked up to the meeting and saw the person I was concerned about and we exchanged very nice hugs and had a pleasant conversation. I’ve done this meditation many times before, and I think I taught it as part of a group of heart centered sets; I think it’s pretty simple, wonderful, and effective. I usually play Guru Singh’s version of “Hummee Hum Brahm Hum” during it. 4th-Chakra-Med-1During the 20 minute silent meditation period, I had figured out I could do the “Fingers of Steel Kriya” that Rishika Subagh was kind enough to send me a while ago. As usual, I felt a bit self-conscious holding my arms up at 60 degrees in the back of the room while everybody else just sat in chairs with their arms on their knees in silence, but it’s my practice, not theirs, and I sit in back to do my best not to distract or annoy anybody. It was a bit challenging, frankly, but worth it. Afterwards – WOW!

I’m thinking tonight I should make this my next 40 day sadhana!

I had some coffee at the end of our jam this afternoon, and that is certainly playing into the way I feel and felt afterwards, but I had a great discussion with a friend discussing script ideas, and was having such a lot of fun and feeling “on” afterwards. My only regret is that when a stunning neighbor whom I hadn’t met before offered to help me unload my music gear by the elevator at my apartment building, I demurred. Ah well.

Here are the instructions for the kriya, as Rishika conveyed them to me. Hopefully I’ll add photos or illustration soon, as I haven’t found this in any manuals yet. She said she learned it from Yogi Bhajan ten years before sending it to me.

Fingers of Steel Kriya
3 part Kriya:
19-21 minutes total

Part-1-IMG_42671st part
Arms up at 60 degrees, elbows locked, and thumb holds down 3 fingers while your wisdom index finger is extended pointed straight and like steel.                                          hold this position for 11 to 13 minutes
eyes: stare at an object straight ahead
hold and stretch and squeeze to close this part out

Part-2-IMG_42542nd part
arms over head with all fingers touching about 6 to 8 inches over halo Arcline – sometimes people can interlace fingers if it helps
eyes: closed
dream meditate etc 5 min
close out: hold and tighten body release

Part-3-IMG_42653rd part
arms up but bent at elbows with forearms on top of each other
Right on left for men, reversed for women
arms form a square coming out from shoulders and neck
(somewhat like “I Dream of Jeannie” pose, if ya know what i mean)
eyes: closed
try to think of nothing which is tough
let shoulders stretch forward in order from keeping them from tightening up
3 min think of nothing
when done: tighten squeeze body release

Hug rib cage and swing left to right adjusting rib cage then give yourself a big hug

If in group, hold hands with everybody; if not in group, arms down and pretend to hold hands of Creator, mother universe etc. (you get the picture)
meditate when done

Practice this kriya and you will flow with courage from the heart and the shifts in consciousness will be easy and you will smile. It may take practice however you will bloom like a flower.

- love and gratitude,
Subagh

Worthless Meditation claiming to change poverty into prosperity – 7th Gate Set for a Happy Summer Solstice!

2014-06-20-17.11.42Yesterday 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.2014-06-20-18.20.48

I did the next meditation sitting in the car, the “Meditation to Change Poverty Into Prosperity.” Poverty-to-ProsperityBasically 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.

2014-06-20-18.14.20 2014-06-20-18.15.47 2014-06-20-18.14The 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.

The Seat of Power Har Har Har

Tonight went to see “Edge of Tomorrow” 3D using my prosperity theater gift card. Doncha love my 3D glasses? Although I’m not modeling them as worn, doubled on top of my regular glasses. I hadn’t seen a 3D movie using these newer technologies; for somebody who’d been sort of “in” with the techies when 3D was first being advanced for CGI in the 80′s, I feel a bit “out of the loop.” Ah well. The last time I saw a 3D movie I think it was “Kiss Me Kate” 3D in the mid ’80′s with the cyan and red lenses in paper frames and ridiculous dancers jumping out of the screen at you. I guess the screening of “Chinatown” last night, introduced by Robert Towne, with commentary by Mulholland’s grand-daughter Christine, at the Egyptian Theater, was a bit more my speed, and a wonderful suggestion by the charming Friend who accompanied me.  The cars they were driving in the film didn’t seem that much older than the one I drive. Great to see it on a big screen, with the classic Jerry Goldsmith score, although all the banter about the horrible score that got discarded made me curious to hear it too.
Himat-Singh-3DGot home late, and really sorta wanted to just “check out” some more, but decided to stick to my yoga commitment and did “The Seat of Power” from Ravi Singh‘s “Kundalini Yoga for Strength, Success, and Spirit” manual. Ravi-Singh-Bk-2This is arranged as 4 short kriyas that can be practiced independently or combined with short kriyas for other things; for instance, there’s another section for the heart center following this one. These four are not altogether different from the longer navel power set in another manual of his, although there are a couple exercises that’re not in that set. I’ve been feeling like I’m having trouble following through on things lately and getting easily sidetracked from my supposed “priorities,” so a navel center set seemed in order, although perhaps better planned earlier in the day. They say you’re not supposed to do breath of fire late at night because it wakes you up, but then they say insomnia can be caused by a weak or out-of-balance navel center too. What’s a person to do? I used to hate all these leg lifts, but tonight kind of welcomed them. Seat-of-PowerTomorrow is day 40 of uninterrupted daily 11 minute “Har” meditations, so I didn’t want to skip that tonight, and did it after the navel set. The Master’s Touch 25th Pauri “Meditation to Change Poverty Into Prosperity” is up next too; I’ve done that meditation tons of times, but didn’t remember that you’re supposed to do Bhangra dancing afterwards. It’s a bit late for that tonight.

I’m realizing I’d really hoped to spend a good portion of this week doing some serious yoga on my own since I couldn’t get to Espanola for summer solstice or IKYTA conference or Peace Prayer Day, but there’ve been other good things happening this week instead. However I feel like I’ve been sloughing off on any serious yoga the last few days too. I’ve found it often seems more challenging when doing a 40 day kriya sadhana as you approach the 40th day. Often that’s when I want to quit most, although that wasn’t my experience today. I did cook up the onion soup; need to get some mung beans since I seem to have eaten the ones I had, and some watermelon too!

Sat Kriya + Har Har Har

Coupla days diverted by other pursuits, but forced myself to at least do 11 minutes of Sat Kriya and 11 minutes of the “Har” meditation each day. The first day, the Sat Kriya had a definite instant impact, and I felt it realigning and focusing my scattered energy. This morning I was having trouble staying focused and present with them, as I was running late and scrambling to get a bunch of things in order before I shot out the door, but somehow despite the distractions, it helped.

I’m also finding the “Healing the Wounds of Love” chant to be helpful throughout the day, and now really enjoy it.

I plan to find time for more energetic sets tomorrow. I’m wishing I was in Espanola at Summer Solstice, and have the ingredients for the solstice onion soup waiting to be cooked up in the kitchen.

 

Challenge the Ego in You, Essence of a Teacher Meditation, another Blessing Meditation, Upliftment Meditation with suggested music, Patanjali Sutras

Got home tonight, and was feeling a bit depressed, I guess; news of a friend’s father’s unsuccessful lung cancer surgery tapped into some grief of my own. I find myself sharing about my father’s death with friends who’re dealing with cancer that appears life threatening, then realizing they’re struggling for life with cancer and I’m responding with stories of death from it, which might not be the most helpful response. Also found myself irritated by another person’s report of his serious yoga practice, and his disinterest in my sharing of my own. I’m still trying to decipher why I find him so irritating, but I suspect there are facets of my own behavior that bother me in him.

I’m also seeing how often people simply have no interest in Kundalini Yoga, and I try to bring it to the table in other religious or spiritual contexts where it isn’t welcome. Most of my non-yoga friends on Facebook probably have no interest in it; same with most Quakers, who are simply disinterested in my yogi chai tea, etc. – I’m planning to go to Pacific Yearly Meeting with them, instead of Summer Solstice with the Kundalini Yogis, where my interest would be shared and celebrated. I go to Quaker meeting because I treasure the silence and values, but I could be going to Gurdwara at the same time with the other Yogis. Some friends who’ve had deep interest in yoga think Yogi Bhajan was a shuckster; it seems there’s a lot of snobbery between the various Hatha forms. When I practice Kundalini exclusively, I sometimes feel like I’m not really learning YOGA – especially after taking Dharma Mitra’s class at Bhaktifest and realizing how little the Kundalini training had given me in terms of hatha practice. That’s all the chatter of my ego, and then I’ll do a KY set and feel my state of consciousness transformed by it, and it quiets down.

Well, I started the practice tonight with the Har meditation. I got the rather strange gift in the mail of a check from NYS Tax board – an unexpected refund check following the payments I’d been making on a long forgotten tax debt from 24 years ago. It seems they over-deducted the payments. That was truly unexpected.

Trying to choose a set from Harijot’s Self Knowledge manual, I considered the Power to Win Number 2 set, or a variety of others, but it was late, and a lot of them involved pounding on the floor, or flailing about like a frying fish, and I know from experience this has bothered previous neighbors downstairs. I considered the Conquering Depression set, but ruled it out for the reasons just mentioned as well.
Challenge-EgoI settled on “Challenge the Ego in You” which I’m not sure I’ve done before. I was feeling much better just a little ways into it. I often get leg cramps while sitting on my heels, and celebate pose is often pretty hard on my legs & knees as well. Then there are 108 frogs, which I might be feeling tomorrow. I listened to a  portion of a recording of “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man” (Charles Johnston version/Libravox/Maggie Russell) from YouTube. That was on the reading list for teacher training, although Golden Bridge sold the Isherwood version, and it was never even mentioned during the training, which seemed quite odd. I actually learned a bit about them from one of Wayne Dyer’s books & lectures, which got me interested in reading them again.

Essence-of-TeacherI followed the 19 minute relaxation with “Meditation to Experience the Essence of a Teacher” (Master’s Touch p. 241) and used a Guru Prem “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” from the White Tantric Yoga Vol. 2 collection – a wonderful assortment of 3HO recordings I bought at Summer Solstice in 2004. I don’t have  Gurdev Mata, so I just read the words in Master’s Touch. Combined with the Patanjali, these meditations got me thinking about self-purification and some of the objectives of yogic practice in the first place, which I often arrogantly disregard out of plain obstinance. Then I’ve been considering the aspects of my own life which I’d consider deal-breakers from potential relationship partners, and how I might change them in myself.

Next I did the next “Blessing” meditation, in 3 parts, from Master’s Touch, p. 247. It calls for “Reality, Prosperity, and Ecstasy” by Nirinjan Kaur, which I sounded familiar, but I didn’t think I had it. Then I Googled it and found out it’s really called “Prosperity Hymn” and Guru Prem is credited on it in the same White Tantric Yoga CD I just mentioned. The Nirinjan Kaur Humee Hum Brahm Hum was used several years in different White Tantric Yoga sessions; I have this memory of the eerie funky arrangement going on and on for hours. I didn’t have a recording of it though; however Sikhnet did.
Blessing-1Blessing-2I found it surprisingly challenging to maintain the first mudra for it.

Meditation-for-UpliftmentThen I decided to try the “Meditation for Upliftment” again (p. 236) and found Matamandir Singh’s wonderful recording of the 20th Pauri, Bharia Hath, also on Sikhnet.

Last time I’d just listened to all of Japji since I didn’t have my separate MP3 files of the various pauris when I did the meditation. It was helpful to have the words of Japji too, since I didn’t recall them hearing them in Matamandir’s context, although I’d chanted them many times in Japji at Sadhana. My experience of the meditation was much better this time, and found it more… uplifting? And a couple of hours later, once again I find myself crashing from it – last time I suspected it might be blood sugar, but this time it might be simple tiredness.

Last night I had quasi hallucinogenic dreams in some weird place that had shades of adolescent rebellion, modernist condominium lofts, swabs under tongues that had us (I don’t quite remember who “us” was) flying around these caves that seemed to be at the Huntington Library Gardens, and there were police chasing somebody else, and lava flowing through the tunnels. Amidst all this I found myself thinking “Oh, this is what Ayahuasca is all about, but I haven’t vomited yet…” It didn’t seem like a nightmare when I woke up, much too early, but I wasn’t well rested either. So I hope that isn’t in store again tonight.

Overall, I find myself wondering if I’ve been devoting too much time to the yoga and meditations when I perhaps should be updating resumes, portfolios, and job hunting since freelance work has been less and less rewarding and profitable. Where do I draw the line between spiritual thirst, practice, and practical procrastination? I recall, years ago, trying to print the whole Siri Guru Granth at a full time job on their laser printer, draining the toner cartridge because I hadn’t noticed that it’s over 2500 pages long. It seemed from the start I was obsessively drawn to this Kundalini Yoga thing, even when it adversely affected relationships or jobs. Ah well.

Summer Solstice Time DateOut on the street, the police are stopping a car with noisy instructions through their megaphone, and I should be headed to bed. Solstice is coming up next Saturday; since I’m not going to Espanola, the Wright Ranch in Malibu has often been a good backup plan, but I’ve agreed to go see this mime with my neighbor that night, and can’t do both. They do an American Indian Medicine Wheel ritual there; I’ve done my yoga practice at the center of the mandala beforehand in the past, yet another place where my yoga practice isn’t unwelcome, but isn’t welcomed or understood. Ah well. I don’t particularly feel their ritual to be life changing either, but the location is spectacular beyond belief, and that is life changing in itself.

Update for the last few days; Self Care, Power to Win 1, Chakra Opener meditations

Thursday:
In the afternoon I did my 11 minute “Har” meditation. That evening I heard someone mention that it was the anniversary of their father’s passing, and realized the date my dad had died was around this time of year. I checked my journal when I got home, and it was actually that night! So I spent the rest of the evening remembering that period of my life and wrote a blog post about it. It felt cathartic; good to observe that painful period of my life, honor it, honor dad, and process some of the remaining grief.
Blog post about dad’s passing

Friday:
Met my friend Elizabeth for lunch at Lake Balboa as she passed through town. (It didn’t look quite as nice as this online pic this time) We found the one picnic table with some shade; it was sunny and hot out.
Lake-Balboa
Traffic was horrific everywhere, so I figured I’d spend the afternoon in that part of town, but still ended up in a cul de sac Encino baseball park as I tried to cut across the valley. (I guess I was at the Encino Velodrome) Rather frustrated! Then realized I could just lay my mat there and do my yoga.
IMG_2459 IMG_2457Hadn’t had a full night’s sleep the night before; it was also Friday the 13th, Mercury retrograde, and a full moon! A pretty challenging set of obstacles to be navigating the day with!

Self-CareI chose the first set in the “Fountain of Youth” manual, Self-Care. This is preceded by 2 rounds of the Har Aerobic Kriya.
Har-Aerobic-KriyaAs I finished the exercises, I thought to myself, that was easy – definitely a women’s set. Then there was a ONE HOUR relaxation, and I thought, “no way I’m gonna be able to lie here for that long!” You’re supposed to listen to Rakhe Rakhanahaar for the whole time, and it said your heartbeat will synchronize with it. Well, I hadn’t had adequate rest, and really struggled to cut it short at 45 minutes because I had to get across the valley! Self care was definitely something I needed. IMG_2455It was the miracle hour light-wise, shortly before sunset, and quite beautiful out. I videotaped myself doing the “Har” meditation for 11 minutes, but got home to find it was really too light to see well. I might run it through After Effects to adjust it sometime soon. Or maybe I should just re-shoot it.
Music: Cherdikala Jetta’s “Rakhe Rakankar”

Saturday:
I felt shaggy, and looked so dis-sheveled and tired in the last few posts, so finally got a haircut – whether it’s good sikh form or not. Saw some peculiar things around town…
IMG_2464-HaircutIMG_2470-Gangster-Vegans IMG_2473-Wookie-WheelchairThen I was finally doing my laundry, and didn’t have a strong inclination for any particular set, so I reached into my folder and pulled random Prosperity Paths newsletters until I found one with a full yoga set instead of a single meditation. I found Developing the Power to Win – Part 1 (also published in Self-Knowledge manual)
Music: Livtar Singh’s “I Am Thine”
Har Meditation
Power-to-Win-1I’m trying to remember the name of the woman in the pics; I worked for her at the IKYTA conference or Japji course, and thought her really nice. Narayan? Nirbhair? Starts with an “N”.

After I finished, when I pulled my laundry out of the dryer, I found a movie theater gift card in it! I checked if there was any value left on it, and it said there was $30 credit left! That’s the sort of thing that challenges any skepticism I’ve got about the prosperity meditations!

Sunday Morning:
Wanted to get the day off to a good start and had a very full day ahead, at the Quaker meetinghouse and Elderberries, where I was playing with Brad and Kevin. Since I’d had a good experience with the sets the night before, I figured I’d do them again. Unfortunately, I found my mind jumping around and considering all the events I had to show up for later in the day. My neighbor called asking if I wanted to take her to see a mime visiting from France next weekend. She has problems driving at night. So we’re on for next Saturday. Hmmm… more prosperity?

Developing the Power to Win – Part 1
Music: Livtar Singh’s “I Am Thine”
and Matamandir Singh’s “I Am Thine”
11 minute Har Meditation
As I moved into my day, I found I my neck and right shoulder was pretty uncomfortable, but I didn’t have a break at any time to try to work the kinks out.
Evening:
I went to our meditation meeting at Vedanta Temple. Had a few minutes to read through the remaining Master’s Touch meditations and consider which were good candidates for a silent meditation period of 20 minutes and what mantras and music I’d need for the others. I’ve almost done all the meditations in the book! I realized most of the remaining ones incorporate chanted versions of sections of Japji, which I’ve got at home, so I’ll have to do them there.
5-part-chakra-opener-meditationI chose and did the first 2 parts of Five-Part Meditation Series to Keep the Chakras Open (p. 320). These are actually the last meditations in the book – I’d had to jump ahead because most are not silent, and the meditation period is a silent one. I did them, and as I moved into the second part, I realized my neck and shoulder pain had completely gone away. Interesting….! I was a bit frustrated that the instructions for part 2 didn’t tell you whether to continue with the eyes staring straight ahead, unblinking, or not. You close them for part 3, but haven’t gotten to that yet.

I had the impression you’re supposed to do all five parts in one sitting, but haven’t had a chance for that yet.

Can you take the Sikh religion out of Kundalini Yoga?

In the course of our Teachers Training sessions, I think one of the Sada Sats – either Kaur or Singh – mentioned that somebody had asked Yogi Bhajan if you could do Kundalini Yoga with other religions. My recollection is that he said yes, you could use any religion, but he’d used the Sikh religion because he thought it was the easiest fastest path to God.

I suspect he also chose it because it was what he’d known best. The research people have done suggests that he combined his Sikh meditation training with Maharaj Virsa Singh with his Yoga training with Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari. His Mahan Tantric training, legend tells us, came from Sant Hazara Singh. Trilochan Singh, while obviously confused about the substance of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, claimed that the Sikh religion not only has no interest in any form of yoga, but Guru Nanaak actually said it wasn’t necessary, and discouraged it completely. I’ve frequently been told that Indian Sikhs are horrified at the idea of anyone practicing yoga in a Gurdwara, while it’s common among 3HO.

My experience has been that Indian Sikhs often seem less than interested in teaching Americans about their religion. They seem to look askance with bemused expressions when I tell them of my – to them elementary – interest, although sometimes they have said they appreciate how Yogi Bhajan has introduced their faith to westerners. The language barrier – and my difficulty sometimes even understanding their English accents – makes it hard to really know how much of what I’m practicing is authentic Sikh practice. Their morning banis are different from the Aquarian Sadhana mantras Yogi Bhajan prescribed.

While I’ve found solace and inspiration in my 3HO Sikh indoctrination, often feeling, believing, and experiencing that Sikh chants have a substantial positive impact upon my life, I’m also starkly aware that I have only a dim understanding of what I’m chanting. No matter how much of my life I spend deepening this knowledge, I doubt I will ever have a full experience of it.

A Google search for kundalini yoga combined with other religions reveals as much whackery as you could dream up; Christian fundamentalists who swear the bedevilment of those who practice any yoga, studios teaching Christian yoga, confusing tales of disruptive kundalini awakening, Iyengar’s dismissal of Kundalini yoga as unhealthy; the more links you read, the less clarity you end up with.

I remember talking with the Chaplain at Calvary Hospital while my dad was in hospice there. She was quite interested in my Sikh and Yoga morning sadhana practices, and wanted to know more about them. She made a remark about how she was often skeptical of religious practice in a language foreign to the practitioner, which I thought somewhat amusing coming from a Catholic, when so much of the liturgy there seems to be in Latin. But there’s a point of truth in the statement. The Sikh perspective I’ve heard is that by making the same sounds in Gurmukhi that Guru Nanaak made while chanting, we physically aspire to experience the same state of enlightenment he experienced while chanting Japji. I’m “on board” with that. For some reason I was drawn to Japji from the start.

Yet I’m left wondering if there’s a way to combine the Kundalini Yoga Yogi Bhajan taught with Christianity, Judiasm, Tibetan Buddhist, or Islamic doctrine or practice. Could the scriptures from each be incorporated into the yoga sets and meditations? How would you choose which to use or replace? Would this undertaking require the deep religious experience of a saint within that religion in order to make the right choices? If the more open-minded perspective that we’re all worshiping the same God using different practices is true, then it must be possible. But how would you go about it?

Body Adjustment to Elevate the Spirit and Bring on Depression + Meditation for Upliftment

Yesterday I did the “Har” meditation, made a small get well card for someone from the Quaker meeting who’s just had open heart surgery, and headed over to Pasadena to help clean out the Quaker Meetinghouse Cellar. While looking for a mailbox for the card, saw a mailman delivering mail, and handed the stamped envelope to him, which simplified the delivery a bit for me. Saw a dance performance downtown at Central Library that a friend was playing for, and by the time I got home and cooked some dinner, I really didn’t feel like doing any more yoga. I also felt like I HAD done some, and my conclusion was that the cellar cleaning amounted to Karma Yoga.

Today I chanted the 25th pauri of Japji while driving across town, but it did little to alleviate my impatience with crazy LA drivers (not that I expected it to). Then I did the 11 min. “Har” meditation while sitting waiting for an appt. in my car, and later on headed to Plummer Park. I felt like I needed more of a workout with my yoga today, so I dug through the “Fountain of Youth” manual, which is from Women’s Camp.

Fountain-of-Youth-ManualAlthough they’re women’s sets, I’d venture to say most men I know might find them difficult or even couldn’t do some of them. There are a few that I judge impossible. I’ve actually loved this manual since I got it, although I can’t really judge if they’re truly helping my ovaries and menstrual cycles in the cases where that’s promised.

2014-06-11-18.28.53I chose the “Body Adjustment to Elevate the Spirit” set; it looked like it would work out my whole body, with a lot of leg lifts, downward dog/cobra combos, etc. Nearly every exercise is done 108 or 52 times.
Part 1:
Elevate-the-Spirit-1As soon as I started the 108 leg lifts, my phone rang, and the long call was good, because it gave me time to digest the tortilla soup with mung beans and rice I’d eaten 20 minutes or so earlier. Once I started again, I noticed butterflies fluttering around the sculpture next to me. I couldn’t capture them in the pictures though. But it felt magical.
2014-06-11-18.33 2014-06-11-18.33.032014-06-11-18.34Then I continued through the set, and a bunch of Russian kids began running around the sculpture, and then running all around me.

2014-06-11-18.55.48 2014-06-11-18.55.592014-06-11-18.59.41When I got to the cat/cows, I looked up, and this kid was a couple of feet from my mat, staring right at me.

2014-06-11-18.59.46So I continued, and his friends were all running around me. Then they started waddling up and down the concrete water drain, and I snapped some pics of them, which intrigued them. 2014-06-11-19.04.19Once I got the section of the set where you stretch your arms alternately over your head, I had some new pals. Elevate-the-Spirit-22014-06-11-19.04.492014-06-11-19.05.372014-06-11-19.05.402014-06-11-19.05.502014-06-11-19.06.242014-06-11-19.06.112014-06-11-19.06.03Their parents came by and scooped them up and whisked them away. I finished the set; for most of the exercise part I listened to Guru Singh’s “Ap Sahee” and “Hummee Hum” for some of it. The final rest is supposed to be 10 minutes; I played Guru Singh’s “I Am” which is 8 minutes long, and then moved on to the Master’s Touch meditation.
Meditation-for-UpliftmentMeditation for Upliftment” is on page 236. I’m frankly, getting pretty annoyed at all these meditations in the book that specify mantras that aren’t available, or are excerpts from other recordings that are tough to find. It said it used a setting of the 20th pauri of Japji for 7 minutes, then you’re supposed to hold hands in a group and sing along with it. Since I was doing it alone, and although I’ve made each pauri of Japji into a separate mp3 that I can loop, I didn’t have pauri 20 with me, so I just played all of japji for 11 minutes, held the mudra, chanted along with it, and imagined myself holding hands for the last 4. The meditation ran until the beginning of Pauri 25, which I’d chanted earlier.

Then it was close to dark, and I finished up. So far so good, right?

2014-06-11-19.40.062014-06-11-19.40.24Well, around 9:30 I swung by the Piano Bar to see if Natasha’s band was playing there; I thought she’d said they play there on Wednesdays and Fridays – and I didn’t see them around, so I headed home. Suddenly I was walloped! I crashed into a nasty physical depression. I thought it might’ve been a blood sugar drop, and ate a bit when I got home, which helped a bit, and made some golden milk and a pot of fresh yogi tea. I stabilized after a while, but I still wonder what the hell happened. Yuck.