|Kundalini Yoga Manchester||
I had a dream the other day. I was back at my parents’ old house in a small room that we used to call the “library”, because the walls were covered with shelves full of books. I was about to teach a yoga class in that room. People had already spread out their yoga mats ready for practice. The interesting thing was that Yogi Bhajan was also in the room. I have never had a dream about him and I never met him while he was alive, so this is a very special dream to me. When I entered the room, there was a person standing in the front leading people to do some kind of very strange movements. I just stood there dumbstruck wanting to say “Hey, who are you and what on earth are you doing?”. But could not bring out a word. I just felt this insecurity creep into my body immobilising me completely. “Maybe that’s how it’s done and I am wrong in thinking that this is weird… Maybe this is in fact great, I am just too ignorant to see it… Maybe I should just follow; I must be wrong… Who am I to know better?” In the end, the insecurity won and I took over and continued with the strange choreography. Suddenly, Yogi Bhajan started to yell at me: “What are you doing? This is not what I taught you!” Then I woke up. I think, he did not just mean that teachers should not alter kriyas (set of exercises), I think what he really was saying to me was that I should not let my insecurity immobilise me, I should not let my fear get into my way. Kundalini yoga teacher or not, in one way or another if we learn to listen carefully to our higher self or whatever you want to call it, we all double as transmitters for teachings. If we are blessed to receive a message (I mean the kind of message that inspires and serves others), it is our duty to deliver it. My biggest learning over the past couple of years was and still is (well, amongst other things) that IF I WAIT UNTIL I FEEL THAT I AM READY, IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE! You get the message, you go for it. You hesitate for a second, you missed it. It does not matter how great an impact that teaching would have had, it does not matter how many people would have benefited from it, if you miss your window of opportunity out of fear, nobody benefits and it will eat you up.
I came across this poem the other day, and it deeply touched me. It is a roadmap to harmonious communication. Remember, harmonious communication is not about being free of conflicts. Harmonious communication is civilised communication despite conflict. Who does not know the urge of withdrawing in a conflict situation? The urge to run away, to demonise the other person, and break contact. Unfortunately, that does not solve anything. The problem will resurface, if not with this person than with another person in a new situation. It is not possible to run away. Why not stay then and get to the bottom of it? This poem tells us how. Listen deeply! Listen for the essence, do not only hear the word itself, try to understand what is behind it. Try to understand your reaction to that word, try to understand your need that underlies that reaction. At the same time, listen to the underlying needs of the other person, try to uderstand why they react the way they do. It does not matter whether you think the other person is an insensitive idiot and whether he/she thinks that you are arrogant. Harmonious communication is about rising above our pejudices and judgements and giving each other a chance regardless. Let the soul come through. As tough as it is, this is the only way to harmony and mutual co-existence.
Words Are Windows (or They're Walls)
I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I've got to know,
Is that what you mean to say?
Before I rise to my defense,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?
Words are windows, or they're walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.
There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don't make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?
If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn't care,
Try to listen through my words,
To the feelings that we share.
- Ruth Bebermeyer –
With love and gratitude,
The last two or three weeks I have been at the receiving end of what I perceived as a lot of negative interactions. Just to name a few: rejection, being judged, lack of understanding, humiliation, attempt to discredit me, being lied to… I have been observing my reactions in these situations with great interest. Don’t misunderstand me, it still hurt my feelings and I still had the urge to hide under my duvet and cry. Not that there is anything wrong with hiding under the duvet and crying, but this time I decided to do things differently. Instead, I started to search my memory for situations when I was unkind to others and why I behaved the way I behaved. I discovered a whole range of reasons: feeling insecure; the fear of feeling worthless; fear of the different/unknown; fear of rejection; annoyance that the other person does not share my values, beliefs, opinion, or simply stress and a lack of time just to name a few…
This experience made me realise how easy it is to be insensitive towards the needs of others and take their dignity. At the same time it would take the same amount of energy and effort to leave them their dignity. It all lies in the power of communication. Instead of outright rejection, or inflating the ego to make the other person feel really small and worthless it is possible to acknowledge their needs and still politely decline their request. It is possible to respectfully disagree with an opinion but still offer the other person a safe space to have their opinion. Instead of scolding someone for what one perceives as a stupid question, it is possible to acknowledge that they might have a different background, whereby they don’t possess the same information/knowledge as we do. Just as there is no point in trying to force food into someone’s mouth who is dying of thirst, there is also no point in trying to force a piece of information or experience on someone who is not yet ready to hear it or experience it.
Currently all events seem to lead me back to these two sutras: “The other person is you and if you don’t understand through compassion you will misunderstand the times”.
The fear of feeling worthless is an illusion. Running away from our shadow is first of all useless, because it is attached to us. We can hide from the sun in order not to see our shadow, but we cannot get rid of it. Second, seeing our shadow gives us the opportunity to improve, it is a friend rather than a foe. The only way to rise above our polarities is to acknowledge both our light and shadow.
Yogi Bhajan once said:
“I am not interested in how off the point I am. The question is how soon I can make my point again. I am not interested in how stupid I am. I am interested in how wise I soon can be. I am not interested in how damaged I am, I am interested in how healthy I can be. I am not interested in how wrong I am, I am just interested in how soon I can be right.” © The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, June 29, 1987
With love and gratitude,
Yesterday, I went for a walk with my son. He likes to look at animals so I took him to the farm nearby. The chicken and ducks there share a small fenced off area with a pond for the ducks. As we were standing there admiring the animals, a small hen suddenly flew against the fence. I didn’t even see her coming. She might have thought that we have food for her, I don’t know. She bounced back from the fence and fell into the pond. Strangely, she only tried to get out of the water once. After that she literally gave up. She was just floating on the water and did absolutely nothing to survive. There was this passive acceptance on her little face. She was just waiting for her feathers to get soaked and sink. The area was fenced off so I couldn’t reach in to help her. Suddenly, I noticed an old man with a long walking stick. I don’t speak Spanish (this happened on the Island of La Gomera, Spain) so I just pointed towards the hen. He reached in with his stick and ushered her towards the wooden plank laid across the pond for the ducks to walk on. The hen finally got on the plank and just stood there. I thought ok, now she is safe. I continued my walk with my son. When I came back 30 minutes later, the hen was floating on the water just as she did before, only this time she was dead. I was devastated. Should I have stayed longer to make sure she actually gets out of the tank? Could I have prevented her death?
This incident brought up two things in me. First, the question: How much help is enough help? How far can or should one go in helping others? Yogi Bhajan once said: "Touch a person, hold a person and then carry a person. You can't drag anybody. You can't lean on anybody. Carry them, simply and truthfully. And what are the words that dignify the carrying? Can you repeat after me? 'I am with you.' That's all. One line, 'I am with you.'" (Yogi Bhajan, Success and the Spirit). But, where is the line between dragging and carrying? I still don’t have a complete answer to that.
The second thing that touched me was the look I observed on the face of that hen while she was floating on the water. I have seen that look on the faces of humans many times. Sometimes, the pressure or the demands of a certain situation are just too big for us to handle. In those situations some people freak out and become aggressive, hysterical, hyper-active, turn to food, drugs, alcohol, extreme exercising, etc. Others, like that hen, freeze, give up, accept their defeat and wait for death to come. Yogi Bhajan calls this cold depression. It is cold, because we don’t see or feel it. Sometimes not even the people around us see it. We gradually lose the connection to our soul. According to Yogi Bhajan the beginning of the Age of Aquarius will see more and more people affected by cold depression and other stress related deceases.
What to do to handle it with grace and dignity? This blog being related to Kundalini Yoga the obvious answer would be: do some Kundalini Yoga regularly. But what if someone does not want to do Kundalini Yoga? Should they give up and drown like that chicken? Of course NOT!!! If you don’t want to do Kundalini Yoga or any other type of yoga, do some deep breathing exercises, listen to uplifting music, read inspirational books, go for walks in nature, eat healthy food, do whatever exercise makes you happy (don’t overdo it though), dress for your soul... In other words, find things and people who inspire you. People who help you keep up with staying connected to your soul! But DON’T GIVE UP! Chose to RISE UP instead of falling prey or numbing out.
For me personally, Yogi Bhajan’s sutras for the Aquarian Age have been very helpful:
1. Recognize that the other person is you.
2. When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
3. Vibrate the Cosmos; the Cosmos shall clear the path.
4. There is a way through every block.
5. Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.
To read more about the five sutras click here.
To read more about cold depression click here.
With love and gratitude,
Kundalini Yoga Manchester