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.

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:
2014-06-08-01.06-Sadhana-Guidelines-Binding
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:
2014-06-08-01.05-Blessings-Final

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):
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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.

Meet Monty Python’s BRUCE Singh; arcline and karma zapping

Just imagine them wearing white turbans instead of Brit army safari garb:

Sometimes the 3HO Sikh names drive me nuts, because you never know who the heavens you’re talking about – everybody has the same blessed name!

Today: Wanted to do the “Four Exercises to Welcome Success and Happiness and Expel Grief and Guilt” but pre-Mercury retrograde shadow phase was in full force as the Police wreaked havoc with Hollywood traffic while I tried to make my way to Wattles mansion again, so I just got to do my 11 min. “Har” before a meeting, then zipped, or should I say “crawled” cross-town to Silverlake for OneTaste’s “TurnOn” at a small yoga studio on Effie Street. The intimacy-building pull-your-hiding-in-the-corner-covers games were actually really refreshing, and I was glad I finally had the courage to show up, walk in, (I’d gone once before but got cold feet and left before going inside) and find out what they were about. They couldn’t get me to impulse-register for their workshop yet though. But I was swept up in a rush of energy afterwards, which I hadn’t anticipated. I stocked up on groceries and, as usual at Silverlake, ran into a couple of friends at Trader Joes before they closed. I’d finished off the last of my yogic cooking before I left home. Can’t you smell my garlic breath? Got a nice Pho meal at the relatively new, very trendy Vietnamese place near home. It used to be a really dumpy donut shop; between it and the Cafe Solar de Cahuenga up the street, I’m predicting the adjacent old Mexican supermarket’s days are numbered. Gentrification, baby.

Before bed, “Meditation for the Arcline and to Clear the Karmas” p. 208 MT – this is actually the same exercise as the first of the four exercise set, but for 31 minutes with “Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Jeo,” which was part of the Aquarian Sadhana, but usually 22 minutes long in that context, so I had to run a couple of sadhana versions together for the music. Basically you just keep throwing your karma back over your shoulders as you scoop your palms over your shoulders from resting – palms up – on your knees.

I’m still pretty “awake” but don’t expect I’ll stay up through sadhana, which I’d fantasized about heading over to if I’d gotten to sleep earlier. I think I’ll continue for the rest of the 4 part set, but for the minimum times (11 min + 3 + 3).