Happy Fall Equinox!
This Thursday the sun transitions into Libra – sign of balance – Libra lady depicted as blindfolded and holding scales – Why? She is portrayed as weighing out justice – seeking equality, and balance. This time of year is when we bring in and have a Harvest celebration to give thanks for the blessings of abundance.
It can be a time to be thankful and a time to reflect on the past months of this year 2016. Which crops, projects, and dreams bore fruit and which did not?
Here is an exercise to “weigh in” on your personal scale.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle. Divide the circle into 4 sections. Label these areas (your choice of course) either – Emotional, Physical, Mental and Spiritual; or label them Fun, Work, Creative and Physical.
Think about this next step…add words that describe your life this year for each section. Example – in the physical area – you might write, yoga or swimming or walking. Emotional could be – listening to music, journaling.
Take 5-10 minutes. Find some colors (crayons, magic markers, or (really fun) pastels – and shade in with red the area with the most words, yellow next, then orange and ending with gold or brown (depending on what you have available). You might end up with only 2 colors as I did (1 red section and 3 gold ).
Observe your picture and do not judge yourself but recognize the areas with the most red and the least gold or brown.
Another creative exercise – if you do not want to do that one and find you would rather concentrate on your “Harvest” – would be to take a sheet of paper and make 2 columns.
One is labeled Crops and one titled Dreams
Under crops – what plans that you began in 2016 came forward and had a yield?
Dreams – what ideas or visions are still to happen?
Enjoy this day with friends or family and I know I am looking forward to cooler weather and tying up loose ends – finishing the year with more joy in my heart!
There are many English idioms or phrases that use the word "HOT".
Hot Under the Collar - which means to get angry about something not very important or to be in Hot Water - meaning you've done or said something to perhaps warrant a slap on the wrist or to be Hot - in the sense of in style or fashionable and popular.
Let me give you a Hot Tip - an important or useful suggestion...
The temperatures have been in the 90's with a heat index of 100+ and to think of going outside and driving to a yoga class is the last thought on your mind.
I would like to invite you rather into visualizing feelings of coolness and relaxation in a class where the heat dissipates from your mind and from your body as well.
Yoga during this time of intense heat can help one handle "sticky" situations with a family member or co-worker, or lower the degree or intensity of interactions while driving or in a horrible meeting. It can also help you to slow down and remember the importance of Life staying in the present moment.
How? Yoga is soothing to the mind. By watching the breath in class - it will help you to remember to control the breath outside of class to recognize and slow it down, exhaling peace and calm helping you to cool down the anger or anxiety.
Sitali Breath is a good one to cool the body down physically. In Sanskrit, the word sitali means "cooling," and this breath has an immediate cooling effect. Inhaling into the moisture of your tongue makes your mouth—and whole body—feel a nice inner breeze.
Stretching the spine in class renews your whole body and gets the serotonin hopping and increases the flow of this neurotransmitter through the body and brain. It's a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer.
Studies have also found that yoga reduces levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that’s secreted by the adrenals). Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone so maybe it's a good idea to take refuge in your practice!
Hoping this Hot Tip gets you into the car ,or if fortunate enough to walk, to your local yoga studio or teacher. Yoga may turn out to be a
Hot favorite to use this summer.
January 1st, 2016, a new year begins and with that the opportunity to join with possibly thousands reciting a poem, a poem of love--Japji, the song of the soul. How awesome is that to uplift your life and the world, doing mantra and shining your light into the dark.
“The Sound Current of Japji and the meaning of its words, when meditated upon with openness and love, awaken a soul to its destiny. Step by step, Japji gives you the comprehensive power to know yourself as you are and be with God’s Creation in a spirit of joyful surrender.” Ek Ong Kaur Khalsa
The extended meditations in Kundalini Yoga (40/90/120 days) instigate transformation and action. Rightly so, if you journal daily—and here is something that is key—read over and over what you have put down, realizations begin to sink in, one single footstep at a time.
“…To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kinds of thoughts (actions, too –KF) we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau
There are key words for journaling during a 40 or 90 day or more meditation or practice. These are: introspection, clarity, experience, awareness and release. After you have gone within in the quiet of the morning, introspection on one’s life is often found and in just a few words can be disentangled. Clarity on your actions (both good and not so good) is found through writing about your day.
Awareness and a deeper understanding of one’s life are processed as you refer back on the journaling paragraphs. And there can be an emotional release in those written words that does not have to play out in the outer world. Everyone’s experience will be different and also everyone’s understanding of that experience.
“What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps sort this out.” Michael Hyatt
I suggest you become a little bit familiar with Japji before the 40-Day Sadhana starts on January 1, and begin to learn the nuance of the language by listening to a tape. And find your journal!
By Kathe Forrest/Siri Kirin Kaur
I am a dedicated yogi. My practice is what I begin the day with before the sun rises.
However, on Saturday I somehow hurt my back. Feeding the chickens that morning – I had a spasm in my lower back that produced a shooting pain. I dropped to the ground and waited. I was only able to make it back to the house through the breath.
The next 3 days were hard due to having to keep still for the most part and lie down but I felt the loss of my routine and my yoga! Yes, I did the breathing/meditation in bed but the Kriya for Metabolism and Relaxation was put on hold.
I am much better today due to a great massage on Tuesday and turmeric and arnica and being very careful through listening to the body which is one of the main tenets of Yoga!
I have dropped the kriya from my practice for several reasons: 1) It’s been more than 5 days and my 40 days is disrupted, 2) Maybe it was hurting my body to do so much BOF (breath of fire) and stretch pose.
Examine through your daily journal – what is going on with your body physically.
(See Some of the reasons why keeping a yoga journal is an effective tool in the book Keep the Change).
Then perhaps injuries can be avoided by either modifying or reducing times or having to change to another meditation or kriya. Don’t be so ingrained in the performance that you miss what is going on.
Here are a few things to watch for while practicing as well.
Being fatigued, emotions of anger, your body is tight that day or it’s really flexible, soreness, joint pain or headaches. All signs to Stop and consider.
My main lessons from this, I think, are to listen to what my body was telling me, which for me was fatigue, and that letting go is perfectly ok no matter if I was on day 2 or 32 of my 40 days.
Today I can begin something new!
Sanskrit tapasyā , literally "produced by heat", refers to a personal endeavor of discipline, undertaken to achieve a goal.
Vedic scripture tells us that producing heat (tapa) or the fire that burns within - will bring insight to our soul. This heat can begin with Japa , a repetition of a mantra with or without repetition of any spiritual discipline, such as yoga postures and meditations. Your desire thermometer is regulated by japa. The wish to change or become closer to your soul is either hot or cold or somewhere in between. This temperature is the heat that can be translated to energy undertaken to achieve whatever goal you have chosen.
The repetition or japa will begin to mold thoughts, actions and awareness. The changes begin incrementally over time as we replace poor judgment with smart choices, harmful habits with constructive ones, reaction with action.
The earliest discussions of tapas, and compound words from the root tap (Sanskrit: तप) relate to the heat necessary for biological birth. Its conceptual origin is traced to the natural wait, motherly warmth and physical "brooding" provided by birds such as a hen upon her eggs - a process that is essential to hatching and birth; the Vedic scholars used mother nature's example to explain and extend this concept to hatching of knowledge and spiritual rebirth.
By doing and repeating everyday your spiritual heat – the friction within the body like the friction between sticks and stone produces the fire to dissolve and burn the negative. Within 40 days – the mind embodies new thoughts and awareness and if sitting for 11 minutes, systems in the body begin a metamorphous.
In the yogic tradition it is the fire that burns within that is needed for the student/disciple to achieve the very difficult goal of enlightenment, to foster self-control, one mindedness and focus, simplicity, wisdom, integrity.
"Asana is meditation on the body, pranayama is meditation on the breath and subtle energy currents within us, and then we work with the mind directly, with the ultimate aim of transcending body and mind and experiencing the higher Self."
Pranayama, the formal practice of controlling the breath, lies at the heart of yoga. It has a mysterious power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or a wild mind. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through a panoply of breathing exercises. In the process, the mind is calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga--like asana--and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.
Taken from Yoga Journal - Prescriptions for Pranayama
This Wednesday will mark 40 days that I have been chanting twice a day Har Har Har (Hud Hud Hud).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpA4TkTyCKY
I undertook this simple prosperity chant and meditation with some members of my family. The results have been rather interesting for the four of us.
I will tell you about my experience first. This entire time I have felt cared for by a guardian angel or guide. I knew within my psyche that if there were financial difficulties - it would all work out for my benefit.
Let me quote Yogi Bhajan here on prosperity.
“Attitude of gratitude brings you opportunities beyond your concept. And when the prayer becomes the vibration of the soul, mind and self, we can create a miracle.”12/8/89
On day 5, I was given an opportunity at work to do something creative.
Day 8 , I was given new clothes and learned about some new social media techniques for my business.
And these are many other little things that happened. The theme for me during this time has to do with the above quote. Each day I thought of how very thankful I was for my life and health and a roof over my head, food, etc. As negative situations happened to my friends or coworkers or news of the day, I remembered to "Bless myself".
In my morning meditations after chanting, I sang along
to Nirinjan's I Am
Within this time frame, I was granted inexpensive health care and was able to see a doctor of my choice (she is wonderful and a Naturopath - amazing!!). I had tests done that I definitely could not afford otherwise.
I also connected with another beautiful soul to help me with marketing and is a Kundalini teacher as well.
There is more to tell but I want to speak about the experience of the others who were chanting too.
One person has to give up his house that he was buying but he will make a huge profit in doing so. He was given work that is manageable (he has cancer) worth thousands of dollars. More than that, he became attuned to Kundalini yoga once more in his life and began practicing other meditations in this tradition.
The other two in this "family" found some amazing deals on "stuff" they needed and also beautiful and natural works of art showed up in their lives, such as this shell. They made art as well and enjoyed their surroundings and being "grateful".
What you need to know before you get married and advice on how to stay together!
by Kathe Forrest
Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa, the first Kundalini yoga student in America,
has been giving advice on marriage for over 38 years. Her first book,
published in 1996, Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power, is the
definitive text on kundalini fundamentals.
She has written a marriage manual outlining a strong and committed relationship. Marriage on the Spiritual Path: Mastering the Highest Yoga is an expanded version of Shakti Parwha’s talk-“Don’t Get Married”. These lectures were given to students of Yogi Bhajan (credited with bringing Kundalini yoga to the West) as a reality check before taking vows. Shakti pointed out to the pair that it’s not going to be smooth sailing and that being together in each other’s space is going to be quite a challenge needing practice everyday. You must expect to raise your consciousness with values and virtues and most importantly come from your heart, she writes. The enduring power of love is characterized by a constant desire to give. It is unconditional, accepting the differences between the two of you. Each partner must be kind and compassionate while compensating for each other’s weaknesses.
One thing that can wreck a marriage is Ego. A man needs to have that manifest in him more than a woman. Conversely, a woman has more power in the marriage and more ability to impact the relationship for better or worse. For instance, if she becomes “commotional”-where her emotions are over the top and dramatic, then she loses. On the other hand, a man should not behave as a drama. Relate to a woman as a simple, intelligent man of your word.
A man needs a woman to inspire him, to ease his stress and strain and help him relax. Moreover, a woman wants to brag about the man for something. For example, how intelligent he is. She also wants him to be kind and be honest.
“When a man works on himself to grow and change, his woman will be challenged and work on herself to try to match up to him.”
Shakti emphasizes that the spiritual perspective is missing in our society. How to compensate for that is with the technology of sadhana (spiritual practice) and meditating together. This is the glue or cement in keeping the marriage together. This brings you to a higher state of consciousness where you remember why you got married, who you really are and then you can set aside the trivialities of the day. “Seeing the God in your partner changes your whole perspective”.
A recipe for happiness in a marriage begins with commitment, which builds character. Character or moral fiber builds dignity; that gains you divinity. Divinity is when you put your life on the line to serve another person; that leads to grace and gives you the power to sacrifice, which takes you to happiness.
Marriage on the Spiritual Path: Mastering the Highest Yoga is a practical
guide to understanding and achieving a successful spiritual marriage while keeping up with the demands of daily living.
This was written in 2007 after a interview with the author.
The Negative Mind in Kundalini yoga is regarded as a mind that protects you as well as has you steer clear of what could be positive for you. I have a tendency as a Capricorn to see the negative side of life many times a day but I am trying through my consistent 40 day practice to overcome that scenario.
Here is an example - I had a massage yesterday and it was wonderful! I feel so much better today, less tightness in the shoulders and a more relaxed body. But...yesterday lying on the table, my mind immediately begins to wander into negative thoughts such as, "When will she change to my foot? Her hands don't seem very strong. I better get the full 60 minutes." and so on and so forth. After a few minutes of this chatter, I said to my self and repeated over and over until I felt that I had conquered that Negative mind - this sentence - The Universe brings me exactly what I need today.
It worked! I felt happier almost immediately and almost fell asleep. Here is a Meditation for the Negative Mind for when you too - seem to be in that state of unhelpful and pessimistic thoughts or actions.
Meditation for the Negative Mind: When you need to balance the flashing negativity and protective fervor of the Negative Mind, use this meditation. It clears the subconscious of unwanted negative or fearful thoughts. Then the Negative Mind can give you clear signals to protect and to promote you. The posture is one of calmness and humility that lets the Creator, the Unknown, cover and shield you.
Posture: Sit straight in an easy cross-legged pose. Make a cup of the two hands with both palms facing up, and the right hand resting on top of the left hand. The fingers will cross over each other. Put this open cup at the level of the heart center. Elbows are relaxed at the sides.
Eye Focus: Your eyes are slightly open and looking down toward the hands.
Breath: Inhale deeply in a long steady stroke through the nose. Exhale in a focused stream through rounded lips. You will feel the breath go over the hands.
Mental Focus: Let any thought or desire that is negative, or persistently distracting come into your mind as you breathe. Breathe the thought and feeling in, and exhale it out with the breath.
Time: 11 to 31 minutes
To End: Exhale completely and suspend the breath out as you lock in the navel point. Concentrate on each vertebra of the spine until you can feel it all the way to the base, as stiff as a rod. Then inhale powerfully, exhale completely, and repeat the concentration. Repeat this final breath 3-5 times. Then relax completely.
© The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
From The Mind: Its Projections and Multiple Facets
On the first of October I began the Meditation for Intuitive Speaking and Applied Consciousness. On the 5th day, I noticed when I woke up, I was aching all over my body as if I had been run over by a truck. I was also nauseous.I assumed this to be because I was teaching Pilates now and doing my practice? Maybe??
Really, I was at a loss...
The next day I was better but there were residual effects. On the 8th day, in the middle of the afternoon, my ribs began to really hurt. It was difficult to walk, breathe and I had no idea what was going on. I left work early and came home to call some friends and ask what they thought of the practice that I was doing and possible repercussions. One thought that I had torn my rib tissue and to stop everything - not to do yoga,Pilates, period! The other friend agreed that I should discontinue the practice and see what happens.
So, I went to bed - not being able to lie down or breathe very well. I decided to take Arnica (30C). I did so at first every 15 minutes and then every 30 and gradually felt better and was able to sleep.
The next morning I was fine. In fact, I had a yoga which I taught with no problem.
But, I did not do the meditation and have not for several days now.
Yes, I was chanting Har and pumping my navel for over 11 minutes and the notes do explain that I will feel it in my rib cage...but this was incredible.
I am writing about this for 2 reasons - to tell my story and to underscore that you may begin a journey to have it quickly go another way. I am of course disappointed that I had to stop but even more so - it is imperative to Listen to my body. Hopefully, I can begin a new 40 days soon.