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.

Sahib Parnaam near Balboa Lake, Har Har Har

2014-06-09-17.16-CalArts-StepsHeaded up to CalArts today to take care of some library research and renewals; as usual found myself interested in way too many books in the library, especially those relating to my Integrated Media MFA, which I don’t often find my interests stimulated by elsewhere around LA. It was a beautiful day out, and I’d forgotten how terribly hot it gets up there in the summer. One of my priorities was attempting to avoid rush hour traffic, and I did OK with that.

2014-06-09-17.16-CalArts-LawnLooking down on the lawn in the central area of the campus, I remembered how I had once found myself feeling run-down and sluggish and unable to think straight during a class and had slipped outside during the break to do some Kundalini Yoga on the lawn, and re-entered the class feeling a lot more clear-headed and comfortable. If only I’d had a regular practice at that point. I hadn’t even discovered the Kundalini Yoga studios in LA yet, and had to learn and practice everything from the manuals I had – Ravi Singh’s books.

The library uses my old student ID card as a library card, and it’s been falling apart for ages; it was issued in 1996! Every time I’d asked security, the librarians, and others about getting a replacement, I was told it was “impossible.” Today I went to the alumni office, they sent me to the registrar and she printed an alumni card out on the spot. Hmmm. Prosperity meditations? Well, the job board certainly didn’t support that hypothesis:
2014-06-09-17.06-CalArts-Job-BoardI felt a lot more “present” and outgoing today than my usually somewhat observant and sometimes introverted self, in any case.

2014-06-09-19.24.33-Balboa-Lake-ParkI went to Balboa Lake Park and had some time to kill afterwards, and realized the 2 cups of coffee might’ve been to blame for me feeling a bit over-talkative on the phone, feeling a bit wound-up, and over-energized. Maybe yoga would bring things back into control? So I did the “Har” meditation for 11 mins. in the car, and then laid out my mat on the grass near the kids soccer game just south of the beautiful Japanese Garden and DWP water processing plant (both just beyond the walls in the picture). It looked like there was a big fire someplace down near the north side of the Hollywood Hills, and clouds of smoke, or perhaps smog, were drifting west over Tarzana. 2014-06-09-19.24-Balboa-Lake-ParkI wasn’t sure what yoga set to do, and since Sahib Parnaam. is simple and easy to remember (though pretty challenging!) I jumped in and made my way through it. Sahib-Parnaam-ImagesSixteen minutes of push-ups in downward dog, bringing my head to the ground in rhythm with Jap Sahib, revortexed my energy, followed by 14 minutes of tree pose and a couple minutes of Ajai Alai meditation while sitting. I was still pretty wound up tonight, but felt like my day was taking a more focused direction.

Later it sounded like I may be getting a full scholarship to Pacific Yearly Quaker Meeting in Marin County next month. I guess it’s time to quit scoffing about the prosperity resulting from the energetic shifts of my practice. Or perhaps I should refer to it as “grace” and, in either case, practice gratitude.

Forgetting the combination for the 7th Gate Set’s lock; Meditation for Maturity and Wisdom isn’t working, who’ll change my diapers?

Full and busy day today. Couldn’t quite make the Quaker history presentation before meeting in Pasadena this morning after blogging too late last night. I had to show up to follow up on business and ride planning for the yearly meeting in Marin County next month. Got there for most of meeting and potluck, but had to skip business meeting to meet Brad and Kevin at Elderberries, where we played all afternoon. I thought playing went pretty well, except for some weird buzzing noise my bass or amp was making, and territorial tension betwixt Kev & Brad. I hope that resolves itself. Disappointed Frank didn’t join us on percussion. I thought I saw Lea Michele walk by on the sidewalk while we were playing, but probably just another Hollywood delusional mirage. I also found myself thinking we should offer cross-promotions to BeSpun across the street. The cafe wasn’t as full as it was last week, unfortunately. I think the gay pride parade nearby may have impacted the customer turn-out, and it was a beautiful day out, so people may have been up in the hills or at the beach.

My elderly neighbor Maria asked for some help and didn’t answer when I stopped by the other day as scheduled; she’s a bit overcome with self-loathing over it, which I haven’t had a chance to iron out because we’ve been rehearsing and playing. Yes, Mercury IS retrograde!

2014-06-09-00.02.54-7th-Gate-SetBefore Vedanta Meditation Meeting, I did the 7th Gate Set that Gurushabd taught us during teacher training. I transcribed this from a cassette recording of him teaching it, and now wish I had the ($108!) teacher’s training manual that was published the year after we graduated, as this set is apparently in it. There are a couple of exercises I’m not 100% sure I’m doing correctly. Gurushabd mentioned that many of these exercises work on the glands and need to be done for 4-5 mins or more to activate them, but that makes the set nearly 70 mins. long, and I only had 35 mins. to spare, so I shortened everything to 2 minutes each, and did the set under a nice tree next to Vedanta’s temple. I blessed the ants that kept exploring my hands and they eventually left me alone. Tee hee.

Then during the silent meditation period, I tried to do the “Meditation for Maturity and Wisdom” p. 214 Master’s Touch – silently. Ever try to pump your navel silently? The bench I was sitting on kept creaking, and I did my best to keep my breath quiet, but couldn’t really “cut loose.” Ah well.

2014-06-09-00.03.12-Maturity-and-WisdomTo do this meditation, you sit cross-legged with your palms up, pointed ahead of you by your shoulders, and pump your navel. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find pumping the navel at all to be challenging; in the instructions there are a bunch of different adjectives to describe how you’re supposed to pump it; vigorously, powerfully, very hard, very fast. For 31 minutes; the meeting’s meditation period was for 20 minutes, so that seemed to be enough for tonight. A lot of the remaining meditations in Master’s Touch seem to be group ones, or also have many parts to them. I think it’s going to be harder to do one a day.

Now the interesting thing about the 7th gate set is that I almost find a lot of fun syncronicities and personal connections happen afterwards. I was feeling a bit guarded or closed-down at the meeting though, and ran into my friend Christian walking home down the street, he asked for and I gave him a ride. We’ve been friends for ages, so it was nice to connect. I wanted to see my friend Steve play at the Baked Potato afterwards (and avoid the James Taylor Bowl traffic near home) but decided I needed to take care of business and administrative stuff at home instead, undoubtedly due to pumping my navel so much. It had been a really full day already too. Maybe coming home was the mature and wise thing to do?

Still have to do the 11 min. “Har” today; one minute left before my carriage turns into a pumpkin…. but today DID feel quite prosperous, even amidst the retrogradian challenges and nincompoops who kept tail-gating me everywhere I drove.

The ideal yoga manual

In my last post I complained a bit about the binding of the Sadhana Guidelines manual:
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The more I practice, the more I realize I want things that most manuals just don’t offer.

Durability is one of the first issues that comes to mind; the Sadhana Guidelines manual isn’t the only one that falls apart quickly. You need to be able to leave your manual lying open while you follow it, and the plastic bindings also tend to fall apart, or the pages tear.

Set length: One of the first things I want to know is how long the set takes, and there’s never a total time duration given in any manuals I’ve seen. I’m sort of baffled that no one has addressed this.

Maybe it’s my virgo moon, but I really want to sort my sets by the things they’re supposed to target. That’s really hard to do in a manual that includes lots of different types of sets. Once I get a pile of manuals, it’s hard to remember which one had a certain set I liked. I deal with this by xeroxing the table of contents from all of them, and then I can look through those pages to find things more easily.

A lot of 3HO newsletters included sets in them, but it’s even more difficult to find sets among them, and you can’t really pull the set out of the newsletter. You could xerox each one and keep them in a folder, which I sometimes do, but that’s not terribly efficient either.

Music: Time and time again, a set will refer to a piece of music that was used when the set was taught. A lot of them are impossible to find, or collecting them is prohibitively expensive. I really wish the manuals would give you the option of buying a CD with the music used in the sets in the manual! Now, of course, this is where teachers really get to apply their creativity; frequently the music they choose instead is much more interesting, but I’d still like to know what the original selection was.

Shorthand for teaching: Once you learn a set, you don’t need to read all the instructions each time; you really just need a name for the pose if there is one, or an illustration, and a duration. The older teachers frequently used shorthand notation, like BOF or LDB (breath of fire, long deep breathing) for their personal notes, which makes a lot of sense.

Physical limitations or alternatives: some teachers have added alternative exercises for people with injuries, and this is a great practice.

What else do YOU think an ideal manual could offer?

Onion Peeling and facing resistance

Well, today got off to a groggy start, as I had to meet some people early in the morning, and my body was feeling out-of-alignment and crummy, and there wasn’t time to do any yoga to fix that. I tried to do a small bit of bound lotus sitting in a chair in a group setting without being too exhibitionistic, but it didn’t help much. Finally I went outside and did a couple sun salutations, and surprisingly that helped significantly. There wasn’t time at that point to do much else. Quite a bunch of changes going on in my life; mercury went retrograde today, and I’m actually asking for help from some people in some life changes I’m trying to undertake, which isn’t my usual practice. So I guess I’m “peeling the onion” of my life.

After a meal with friends I had a nice afternoon rehearsal with Brad Byrd, whom I’m playing with tomorrow at Elderberries along with Kevin. Had to do some spur of the moment apt. cleaning to make that happen, and the place feels much better as a result. After he left, I didn’t really have any inclination to do yoga, but my mental commitment and lingering desire to do yesterday’s chosen sets got me started.

I did quite a lot tonight!

I never have been that fond of the “Kundalini Yoga Guidelines for Sadhana (Daily Practice)” manual. Gurushabd gave it to me when we were beginning a new manual, and I suppose part of the problem is that I feel a psychic debt for dropping that project. But the manual itself is poorly bound; I’ve barely used it and it’s falling apart. A lot of the sets in the Teacher’s Training manual were xeroxed from it. I’m not excited about the illustrations in it. But the content is good, so I was attempting to get past those superficial issues when I chose a set from it.

First I did “Kriya for Nerve, Navel, and Lower Spine Strength” (p. 61) After I was underway I remembered one set that Sada Sat Singh had taught once that had a lot of these platform and ramp poses in it, and it left my legs so sore I could barely walk at work the next day. I was hoping it wasn’t this set – or at least that I don’t have a similar reaction. It didn’t seem as strenuous as it claimed it was, but it’s not a snap either.

2014-06-08-00.37.08-Nerve-Navel-Lwr-Spine-StrengthWhen I was doing exercise 7, I remembered how I was at an event sitting next to “Skinny Bitch” vegan author Rory Freeman, and the chairs were full, so we were at the side of the room on a stage, and I suddenly had the urge to do nearly the exact same pose, from another set, actually, which you do in celebate pose, between your heels, rather than sitting atop them. She immediately moved to the other side of the room. Don’t blame her, actually… sorta funny to remember; maybe I smelled like dairy. Yes, I’m a crazy yogi.

I listened to Cherdikala Jetta’s “Gobinday Mukunday” for the whole set; nearly all the exercises were 3 minutes long. Anyway, after the set I did my 11 min. “Har” meditation, and then decided to complete the Master’s Touch “Blessings” meditations that I’d only done the first two of.

This is the pose for Part III:

2014-06-08-00.37-Blessings-Pt-3You chant “Har” in this posture for 3-1/2 minutes. Got a little old after 11 minutes of the other “Har” meditation, and James Taylor is across the street at the Hollywood Bowl tonight, so there was a lot of traffic and fire engine noise for some reason, although I didn’t find myself distracted by it. I think the navel exercises helped with focus.

Then the next two parts are supposed to be done with a partner, but I don’t really know anybody who’d be interested in doing them, or “up to the task” – or maybe I’m just committed to solo practice – so I had to follow the suggestion to imagine a partner if doing it alone. First you do another minute of chanting “Har” while looking into the partner’s eyes, and then you close your eyes and do a deep meditation, breathing long and deep for 27-1/2 minutes. I imagined a few people I knew who need support and healing as my partners, and also some people with pretty intense energy who’ve been through some tough challenges lately – for some reason Gurutej came to mind; she lost her daughter last year. Some other friends facing health challenges were my imaginary yogis too, but I won’t name them. I played “Healing the Wounds of Love” again because it was long enough to support the meditation and I don’t have the specified ones in the book.

2014-06-08-00.38-Blessings-PartneredSo I finished the meditation and it had been pretty long with the yoga sets too, so I closed with Long Time Sun, and then realized there were two more pages!! There are eight parts to this meditation! So I resumed and finished things out; the next section used the Ardas Bhaee mantra again which I recently discussed the lack of recordings of. I made something up that sounded a bit silly and like some classical aria. When I’d sung “Long Time Sun” I was a bit disappointed that I felt like I’d lost my melodic sense from so much yoga and meditation or was feeling tired. Ardas Bhaee was only 3 minutes, fortunately.

Then the next section called for a mantra that’s actually in the “Healing the Wounds of Love” mantra I’d just been listening to, so I used it again; the “Aad Such, Jugad Such, Haibay Such, Nanaka Hosay Bhay Such.” (3-1/2 mins)

The final section you’re supposed to join hands with the class, and listen to the “Aquarian March” (which I actually have a recording of), thinking about how you can see healing happen when you hold someone’s hands. The march is incredibly hokey and has these old instrumental samples that sound more like a calliope than anything else, but I liked the message printed in the manual with it:
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Yogic High in the Hills Sunset

2014-06-06-19.47Yesterday I once again had hoped to make it outside to do some more active yoga before I was meeting some friends in the evening, but took longer to sort through manuals and decide what sets I wanted to do, and then I got stuck in traffic. By the time I got to my destination near the Burbank airport, I only had 25 minutes to spare. I was pissed. But I drove to the edge of this park, where the fire road began, and the spectacular sunset brightened my mood. I did the 11 minute “Har” meditation before heading back down the hill. It wasn’t a great day for yoga, but some good connections with friends.

2014-06-06-19.48.32-Panorama-12014-06-06-19.53-Sunset2014-06-06-19.54-Me-Gyan-Mudra-Sunset

Men’s Potency and Potential, Har di Har Har, KY (Jelly?) Set #2, Mature Elevated Caliber of a Spiritual Teacher

Two days ago (Tuesday):
I’ve found myself frequently trying to squeeze my yoga in between other responsibilities and errands, and I got the car washed before my hike. I was running late again, and realized I wouldn’t have enough time to do the entire “Men’s Exercises for Potency and Potential” set from Ravi Singh’s “Kundalini Yoga for Body, Mind, and Beyond” manual. I did my 11 min. “Har” meditation at the car wash, which provided some distraction for the others waiting for their cars to be waxed. Then I thought it might be too annoying to start into the Men’s set there, and headed to an adjacent house’s sidewalk lawn where I did the first few exercises, then my car was finally done. I drove up to Tree People, and finished the set before meeting my friend for our hike.

2014-06-06-05.04.09-Mens-SetThese exercises are printed in several places. In addition to Ravi Singh’s manual, they’re in the Man to Man Men’s camp lecture transcripts, and might be in one of Gururattan’s manuals too. But Ravi Singh’s manual is best; the illustrations and explanations are more thorough. The Man to Man version didn’t include illustrations, if I recall correctly. It’s actually kind of frustrating, to me, that this is the only real “men’s set,” while there are many whole manuals for women. Do we wonder why more guys don’t come to yoga? (“Yoga… what, like stretching and stuff? – are there hot chicks there?” – um, well, that’s a whole ‘nother topic for frustrated discussion, but after teaching a friend Kundalini Set #2, he said it reminded him of football practice)

As far as the hike went, I guess it became clear I haven’t cleared all my relationship karma yet. So much for “Healing the Wounds of Love.” However, chanting that again afterwards seemed pretty powerful, and the next day too. I could point to the things my hiking partner didn’t bring to the table, but I’m more interested in what I can change about myself for future opportunities. What I’m facing is having to let go of some things and having the willingness to take those actions; today I took some action; we’ll see how life plays out. I’m not sure I want to get into details on this blog though. I’m not sure if I was depressed or just tired after the hike though, and that lingered through into yesterday too.

Yesterday (Wednesday): 11 mins. “Har”
That was it, and I was resisting even that. A steak and potatoes dinner really didn’t help. Maybe that’s a good argument for a vegetarian diet – at least for more veggies in my meals. I was feeling really anti-self-care last night.

Today (Thursday):
2014-06-06-02.30-KY-Set-2A 2014-06-06-02.30-KY-Set-2B
Was running late, and had planned to do the Kundalini Set #2, which has been one of my favorite sets, in Plummer Park. But I had to rush through it, and shortened most exercises by half, a third, or quarter. Then I dashed off to my event, and the building was closed. So I went back to the car and did “Har” for 11 minutes, and then MT p. 191 “Meditation to Develop the Mature, Elevated Caliber of a Spiritual Teacher Parts 1 & 2″

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Har haray Haree Waa-hay Guroo” 31 mins.

Ardaas Bhayee, Amar Daas Guroo, Amar Daas Guroo, Ardaas Bhayee,
Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru, Sachee Sahee.”
4 mins whistled; 1-1/2 mins breath of fire; 2-1/2 mins sing from the navel

I ended up doing this in my car because the homeless guys in the park were creeping me out, and it seemed less distracting. But the car ceiling wasn’t high enough, so my head was pressed up against it. Frankly these meditations didn’t seem too exciting, and I didn’t feel much effect. What was happening was that I noticed how distracted I was by things around me, and gradually felt more focused by the end. That process started with the “Har” meditation before it, actually.

To my frustration, I’ve not yet found a recording of Ardas Bhaiee, although I’ve done various versions of it, making up a melody as I go. For a while, several years ago, I played a samba rhythm on a drum machine while chanting over it (the same rhythm used in my “Har” mix with my electric bass playing on it).

Then I headed over to the gig of one of the cooks from Elderberries, which was wonderful. Her band is fantastic. I spent some time chatting with the musicians and club’s booker, Shannon, who among other things is working as Alyssa Milano’s stand-in on her current TV show. Really nice time with some great people and great music.

About Set #2: I had discovered this set in Gururattan Kaur’s “Sexuality and Spirtuality” manual before I did teacher’s training, and loved it. During teacher’s training, Gurushabd was going to teach the “Opportunity and Green Energy Set” which is in Gururattan’s “Relax and Renew” manual (and may be in others too). Gurushabd couldn’t find the set before class for some reason, and admitted that he’d chosen the Set #2 because they both open the heart chakra which is great for prosperity. Afterwards the other students started arrogantly putting him down (not to his face) for that; I thought it was interesting that he knew that both sets could have similar effects.

It was recommended that we chose a set to practice for 40 days, and I decided upon this one. It calls for doing 54 frogs, and by the time I was about a week into it, my body wasn’t cooperating and my knees were killing me. I don’t (knock on wood) have any knee problems, so it was definitely strain from the yoga set. I had a little chat with Tej Kaur, and she said there was no reason to stick to the set, just choose another one. I was a little disappointed, but it made sense.

Another time I taught it to a couple friends in my apartment, and had also done it before teaching.  I did it at least twice, maybe three times that day. I was in hyperspace! I headed crosstown to a band rehearsal with Danny Rossman, who played drums with me and Guru Singh, and I felt like I was playing my butt off – definitely because of the yoga. It was my first rehearsal with that band, and we were playing gigs immediately, which surprised me. It attributed that to the yoga set before that rehearsal.

Krishna Kaur taught this set before White Tantric one year. There could barely be a worse environment for teaching yoga; everyone was walking in late and re-arranging things while people were trying to do the yoga. It was horribly distracting, but well-needed before doing 6-8 hours of sitting meditations. I mentioned afterwards that I loved that set and the manual it was in. She was surprised; she thought it hadn’t been printed, and was teaching it from her original notes from when Yogi Bhajan taught it.

As for “Opportunity and Green Energy Set” – which I haven’t done recently, I remember doing it on Fire Island shortly after teacher’s training. It was winter, the off-season, so the Island is mostly deserted. Previously I had usually taken the ferry there with my girl-friend, who introduced me to the summer haven. However the west end is also accessible by car, where a bridge connects with Jones Beach near Robert Moses State Park Lighthouse. I drove and hiked in, and did the set in a sandy playground in Saltaire. Then I walked to the bay side towards a diner there to have dinner.  A long-haired cat came out from underneath a house (many homes are perched on stilts, I guess because of flooding). It meowed at me, hung out a bit, and ran off again. As I walked down the street, I saw a poster with the cat’s picture, offering a $1000 reward if found. Unfortunately, the cat had gotten away, so I couldn’t cash in on my prosperity yoga.

I’ve discovered that the Master’s Touch “Blessings” meditations I did Sunday were only parts 1 & 2 of several, perhaps 5, so I’ll have to continue with the others.

Riding Emotional Storms, Getting Rid of Fear/Split Personalities, and Blessings

Yesterday felt awful, but the day wasn’t so horrible in most respects. I got to sleep early, woke up really early, and felt miserable. Financial challenges were touching on all my emotions and making me reactive in ways that I knew weren’t true, but I was pretty “shut down” most of the day. I felt physically crummy too; partly perhaps from the yoga set the day before, but it was hard to tell. Curiously everyone I talked to today had a lousy day yesterday too, for different reasons in every case.

Despite all this, I earned some money for just sitting with an elderly woman and keeping her company. As I walked back to my apartment with it, I found myself wondering if just being a friend for somebody can be “of service.” Perhaps it was healthy decisions playing out different behaviors of prosperity in my life.

Not much later, my mood really plummeted, overshadowed by some sort of anger I could sense underneath it, but not pinpoint, while I pondered writing a blog post on, “what is your Kundalini Yoga Bullshit Quotient?” However I couldn’t follow that one through. By the time I’d spent some time with friends discussing the issues they were finding their ways through, and one friend’s intellectual digressions on philosophy, this had all diminished significantly.

I did the “Har” meditation before bed, and believe me, I was resisting it!

Then I did the MT p. 176; “Meditation to Get Rid of Fear and Split Personalities.” I’ve done this one before, quite a while ago. What was driving me nuts was sitting on my heels. My legs kept cramping. But afterwards I fell asleep like a light!

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Aadays Tisai Aadays Aad Aneel Anaad Anaahat Jug-jug- Ayko Vays

Yogi Bhajan talks in the introduction about how the average person has between 16 and 20 “split personalities” and I found myself wondering if the different interests I share with the different people I encounter in my life are aspects of them.

Got up early and headed to Pasadena for the Quaker Meeting again; they had a history presentation which started earlier than I could make it, but I caught the last portion, and the hour prayer/meditation, and saw an older friend visiting from San Diego, which was a treat. She and I had hiked (her in an electric cart, actually) around Walker Creek Ranch in Marin County a couple years ago. As I headed over to Pasadena beforehand, I was thinking about a guy there that I don’t really know at all but had just disliked, and I didn’t know why. He ended up sitting next to me during the silent hour, and I had a nice conversation with him afterwards and look forward to getting to know him better.

Then I headed to Hollywood again, and played with Kevin at Elderberries, and my energy level was almost more elevated than I could contain, which was fun in a musical context. I also played with a new songwriter named Brad, whom I’m looking forward to playing with in the future, and with Frank, who also plays bass, on drums – his cool sister Natasha also works there and cooked us another wonderful lunch. She invited me to her gig Thursday, which she promised to comp me in to. OK, perhaps the prosperity meditations ARE working?

I did the Har meditation again in my car before the meditation meeting at Vedanta. I’m thinking it’s more powerful when done without musical accompaniment!

Then I tried to figure out which meditation(s) were best for the 20 minute silent meditation slot, and chose the “Meditation for Blessing” parts 1 (11 mins) & 2 (9 mins).

Med-Blessings-IMG_2332
Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Jio  – 11 mins
(Silent) Prabh Joo To Keh Laaj Hamaaree – 9 mins

I was really self-conscious doing the first part, especially since I felt like I was hogging the bench in the back of the room when all the seats in the room were full, and the mudra felt sort of exhibitionistic or something, which is why I sit in back in the first place. I got through that, and launched into the second half, and then there was a point where I just told myself, “I am DOING this… I can pretend to be blessing the room or just do it, and I’m DOING this; this is how it feels to show up and be present and bless those around me.”

Yogi Bhajan told a story in his lecture about communication about a man who had a grove of fruit trees that were barren. Finally he started praying for one of the trees, blessing it, and being grateful for it, and the tree began to bear more fruit than any other around. Then he thought, “why am I only blessing the one tree?” He blessed the whole grove, and now the grove is one of the most “fruitful” in the country. I thought about that last night as I filled a bag with grapefruits from our tree downstairs, and I thought about it as I did the meditation tonight, blessing all those in the room, and the person right in front of me, whom I felt self conscious about blessing, but wanted to bless more than anyone else. Ah well; we’re going hiking Tuesday now too. I wonder if that Shabd Hazaaray DID do something. Either way, today was a remarkable day, and I found myself thinking, “why can’t I remember that crummy days like yesterday are often followed by wonderful days like today when I’m in the midst of self-pity?”

Bountiful Blissful Beautiful Liver Colon and Stomach, Har Har Har (the better to eat you with…)

Weird day; got up, didn’t fully emerge from the dream landscape for quite a while. I was carrying a baby up into the mountains near where a subterranean tunnel was that I’ve frequently visited in past dreams. One time I canoed down it into the Hudson river past Manhattan, but this time I was just hiking up into French mountains like those in Jean de Florette. A cartographer girlfriend from undergrad was especially interested in “dream maps” and this is one place that really seems like it should be surveyed; I keep going back there again and again. Todays dream seemed upbeat, but I hadn’t reached the summit or descended into the tunnel. Anyway, I woke up tired, and remained tired. After about 90 minutes I had 3 small cups of coffee to try to counteract that, but it didn’t help. If coffee doesn’t do the trick, try yoga, thought I.

2014-05-30-17.08.45-Liver-Colon-Stomach-LAVC-Selfie At this point, LA Valley College was nearby, and not in session, so I found a tree with some shade and set into the Liver, Colon and Stomach set I just posted about recently. I wasn’t dressed for yoga, and my belt was a bit uncomfortable. I’m allergic to grass, trees, and ragweed, and the lawn was freshly mowed. My allergies have (knock on wood) mostly been inactive since living in LA and doing a yoga practice, although bad dietary choices can aggravate them. However, either the bad air in the valley, the mowed lawn, the coffee, the mashed potato mix and chicken from last night – I was having trouble feeling like I was getting full healthy breaths, and the liver cleaning exercise packed a wallop.
LiverGonad-Exercise-1
It’s said that if you do this exercise for 11 minutes “you will never have any problems with Mr. Liver.” Well, my experience is that if my system is fairly toxic, the dizziness gets a bit more intense, and it can also bring on nausea, like it did today. I had to lie down a couple minutes to “get back to normal.” Oddly, the instructions for this set initially say that this exercise works on the gonads, although it’s given in many other manuals specifically for the liver. The note underneath it does target my liver experience today, however.

The set began to go a little better when I switched from Cherdikala Jetta’s (whom I normally love) “Mul Mantra” to Guru Singh’s more upbeat “Golden Temple Song.” It seemed that there was a light breeze, but it blew my glasses off the picnic table nearby. That helped cool me down in my jeans. By the time I’d ended the set I felt a lot more balanced and clear-headed.

I haven’t been able to dig up the lyrics for “Nobility” as specified in the manual, so I made up some versions of “Bountiful, Blissful, and Beautiful” and liked the variations I came up with, recording them in the phone, perhaps for later elaboration. So it’s a women’s song, but the message is still good.

Then I did my 11 minute “Har” – today fared quite a bit better, perhaps because the yoga exercise beforehand helped focus my energy. Normally I do this with one of three recordings to help carry me through, but today I did it without musical accompaniment. By the time I’d reached 8 minutes, I had this peculiar experience, as I tried to chant with the energy pumping from the navel, that I was almost shouting without effort. But I wasn’t shouting; it was the sound being reflected off my hands to my ears and face.

I also did the “Meditation on Your Self as a Yogi,” p. 186 Master’s Touch. I hadn’t been looking forward to this meditation too much, it seemed silly. But when I reflected on the obsession with Kundalini Yoga that I’ve exhibited almost from the start in the early 1990’s, it deepened my appreciation for the time I’ve put into it and the changes I’ve gone through.

I finished 11 days of “Healing the Wounds of Love” last night, and sort of feel like it was a waste of time. Either there’s a lot more karma there than the meditation can clear, or I just can’t sense the changes yet. Or else I’ve been given empty promises for it.

Before I started doing the yoga, nature was calling, and I couldn’t find an open bathroom. I expected the set, which works on the digestive system, to send me running for one afterwards, but that wasn’t the case. My digestive system seemed to have settled down rather than eagerly cleansing itself. My energy seemed “even” rather than amped up or tired.

A couple hours later, I had some solstice onion soup and mung beans and rice, and after fighting my way home through late rush-hour traffic, my energy had dropped, and I was irritable and depressed. Nobody I’d attempted to reach via phone today answered or returned the calls, and I was feeling a bit frustrated about it. The maintenance man at my building hadn’t fixed my lock as promised. I had made some progress on my UX design projects after the yoga, but it seemed negligible. My problems with my iPhone’s interface exhibited direct disregard by Apple of the Human Interface Guidelines they created, once I read a portion of them today, and were still causing frustration. My elderly neighbor and friend had taken me to a dance concert at one of her previous colleges last night, and asked for some paid help on a regular basis afterwards, but as we discussed it, I realized she just doesn’t have any money to pay for the help. I’m actually happy to help her out, but a bit frustrated financially and also understand her position. She was almost in tears as she described her frustrations finding friendship and support. I must say, I’ve been grateful for this August friendship. She has been one of my most direct supporters, even though her slow mannerisms and speech style take some work. But the cynical mind says, “prosperity meditations? THIS is what I get? Fuck that!” Then I do them again anyway. Whatevah!

So I couldn’t remember whether beautiful, bountiful, or blissful came first in the chant, and kept mixing it up. So I looked it up, and there was a short exercise for helping alleviate depression:
To help alleviate depression and release our energy to join the ethers, sit cross legged or in a chair, raise the arms straight up, palms forward, fingers stretching wide and draw little circles inward as you breathe long, slow and deeply through the nostrils. Do this for up to 5 minutes. Let your physical body, your arms and shoulders be challenged. Let your rectum, the earth energy, be massaged with the movement and feel the energy move upward. Go beyond the physical. Soar into the ethers. Feel light.

via I AM BOUNTIFUL, BLISSFUL AND BEAUTIFUL.

It helped. I’m thinking I’ve met this woman who wrote this post somewhere, but can’t remember where; Espanola? Golden Bridge? Yoga West? Ram Das Puri?

The “I Think I Left the Stove On” Meditation

“Har…” oh I should tune in… “Ong namo guru dev (Har) namo (Har) Ong Namo (Har) Guru Dev (Har) Namo” (Har) Oh I should turn the fan on… (Har) I wonder what the dance concert tonight (har) will be like (Har) What am I gonna blog about this? (Har) Does this really do anything? (Har) I bet there’s an online version of (Har) this… (Har) I should do a new mix of this music (Har) Why is my mind jumping (Har) all over (Har) the place? (Har) Oh, I’ve been slumping into my (Har) lower back. (Har) Oh wow, 8 minutes… I think I’m finally starting to settle in and become present (Har) wow, what just happened? (Har) It’s like it was resonant musical notes before (Har) and now it’s like a drab monotone (Har) what if I try to feel the breath flowing up against (Har) the roof of my mouth (Har) Oh, that’s better (Har) Aren’t you supposed to (Har) feel the tongue hit the back of the teeth, the roof of the mouth? (Har) Oh, I’m looking at the clock, I must (Har) be fooling myself that I’m really (Har) being present (Har)