Wednesday, March 28, 2012
It is called the minute breath. It is taught by Yogi Bhajan. He is my spiritual teacher, who inspired my parents to not only start practicing Kundalini Yoga, but to become Sikhs as well. So I was born into this lifestyle and because of it was blessed to find my Guru... the Shabad Guru... the Siri Guru Granth Sahib from which the words "Pavan Guru" come from. These words mean, the Guru is the Breath. How incredible is that? The Guru is so close. Guru is that which brings us from "Gu" Darkness, to "Ru" Light. Right within our breath we have the capacity to transform. The problem is that most of the time we deprive ourselves of our breath, we breathe shallow, we breathe as our mind goes from thought to thought... sometimes sporadic... sometimes holding our breath in... as if the very act of not breathing would end this whole crazy thing... which it will of course... someday. Yogi Bhajan taught that each soul is given a certain number of breaths for this life. It is predestined. Many yogis have developed the capacity to breath so deeply that it is said to contribute to their capacity to live longer. You have what you have been given... so instead of wasting your breath away with sporadic breathing... try long deep breathing! You cannot hold anger, you cannot hold depression, you cannot hold frustration when you breathe long and deep in a yogic way. It is impossible. Many of us do not wish to let go of our anger, depression, etc., and so we will never seek out such a breath. This kind of living is exciting, and oddly satisfying because it is safer to exist in what we know. But ask yourself how much do you really want to live in a state of torment, in a state of self loathing, in a state of explosive reactivity? If you would like to do this for the rest of your life, by all means...please do. If you seek change, as I do, I welcome you to try this breath.
Alright... so the minute breath. It is called the minute breath because you inhale for 20 seconds, hold the breath for 20 seconds, and exhale for 20 seconds, for a total of a minute for your entire inhalation, holding, and exhalation.
Here is the basic posture. Sit in easy pose if possible. You can also sit on a chair, as long as you have both feet on the ground and a straight spine.
Before beginning tune in.
Bring both hands to the center of the chest and close your eyes. Chant "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo." This calls upon the Golden Chain, the sacred lineage of these teachings that calls upon the presence of Yogi Bhajan and his Divine Guru, Guru Ram Das to come to your aid. The mantra means "I bow to the Divine Energy within myself and within all beings, I bow to the Divine Guru within myself and within all beings."
Sit with your hands in Gyan Mudra, the thumb and the index finger together.
Close the eyes and and focus your eyes at the third eye point.
Begin your breath...
Slowly, slowly inhale to stretch it out for 20 seconds. Hold the breath in for 20 seconds. Then slowly slowly exhale so that it takes 20 seconds to exhale.
I recommend doing this breath for a minimum of 11 minutes a day. You can go longer if you wish. It will create a ton of bliss.
Here is a little thing about the breath. It takes a good amount of lung strength to actually do the breath as prescribed. To be honest with you I am actually at the 12 second mark... meaning that I am taking 12 seconds for the inhale, 12 seconds for the holding, and 12 seconds for the exhalation. Someday I hope to reach the full 20 seconds. So.... start where you can.
To keep track of time I recommend finding a mantra that you can recite in your mind that equals the number of seconds.
For me, I do the following mantra:
SA, TA, NA, MA, WAHE GURU, WAHE GURU. I figured out the pace to recite it in my mind so that it takes 12 seconds.
And here's a little secret about this breath...
You can also do it throughout your day, even if you cannot close your eyes and hold the mudra (hand posture). For example if you are waiting in line to check out at the grocery store and your feeling kind of impatient (like I was yesterday) try the breath. Instantaneously I saw life as a flow, I saw the enjoyment in having a moment to stop and connect with my Guru. It was amazing. Then when I got to the lady at the check out counter I greeted her with a smile... so much better then the alternative that would have manifested without the breath.
Alright.... so there you have it.
My apologies for any lack of clarity. Please do write in if you have any questions.
I hope you enjoy this breath as I do.
To find out more about the teachings of Yogi Bhajan visit: www.kundaliniresearchinstitute.org
To find out more about Sikhism: www.sikhnet.com
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By God's Grace the gifted musicians Todd Boston and Daniel Paul accompanied me. We were driven up a beautiful country road, and as our driver approached Oprah's residence he kept a keen eye out to make sure that Oprah did not spot us, as it was a surprise for her. At 5:45 pm we found ourselves on the second floor of Oprah's house hiding in a room, and were asked to come down the porch steps to the veranda below when we heard a bell chime. I will never forget walking down the porch steps singing "Oh my Beloved, Kindness of the Heart" the introduction to "Ong Namo" with Todd playing guitar and Daniel carrying one tabla. I was so nervous, I could barely push the notes out, and at about five steps down Todd kind of stepped on my chuni (flowing veil). At the thought of the events that could have followed such a thing (including falling down the stairs while singing) I got a grip of the rail. Todd and I must of had the same vision because we both let out a nervous chuckle. I looked over at Daniel Paul who was playing a singular tabla and singing with this great big smile. I decided that if we had in fact plummeted down the steps he would still be smiling and in full glory. That's Daniel.
At the bottom step I was now fully singing and right there Oprah was sitting with tears in her eyes. That's when I let go... that's when I let God. God is in everything, in everyone, God is in me, and God is in this moment. We proceeded to chant a few more pieces; "Guru Guru Waheguru" (Guru Ram Das - Healing), "Ra Ma Da Sa", "By Thy Grace", and "Kabir's Song." I felt really blessed to have Todd's sweet guitar playing, and Daniel's supportive tabla playing along with his spirited harmonies. In fact everyone was singing. Everyone was singing! I could have never imagined this. My gratitude to Thomas Barquee who produced this music with such care, meditation, and joy that it reached the ears of Oprah. My gratitude to my record label, Spirit Voyage, for supporting us all of these years. My gratitude to God because nothing happens without His Doing.
It was beautiful and empowering to see this beautiful woman, who with obvious pressures and responsibility has kept her grace and is very down to earth. After finishing, Oprah came over and gave each one of us these incredible hugs. I will never forget her absolute warmth and radiance. True to Oprah's gift, in a matter of seconds she managed to ask me a few questions and I suddenly found myself pouring my heart and soul out to her. As we gathered for a photo, and Todd was not in it, she called out, "hey Todd come over here!" Later that week we had a concert which she came to. I loved how she got my daughter to smile when she visited us back stage. She asked her, "Can I say hello to you?" My daughter shook her head no and looked down shyly. Then she said, "Can I say hello to your knees?" and proceeded to tickle her knees. Within a few more variations of this, like "your belly", "your nose", my daughter was smiling. It was a really sweet moment.
This was an incredible experience for me. All I can say is.... just keep doing your thing. Do it with joy, with love, and faith because you never know who is listening.
Here are the links to the websites for my fellow musicians who joined me:
Todd Boston: www.toddboston.com
Daniel Paul: www.tabladaniel.com
Here is a link for Thomas Barquee: www.thomasbarquee.com
Here is a link for Spirit Voyage where you can find all of my music: www.spiritvoyage.com
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Kriya helped us to get past the idea that we are limited. We experienced day after day many victories. Some of these victories we thought too small to share but as we dared to, we inspired someone beyond anything that we could have imagined. Battling the barriers of life just to practice this meditation we found how hard it is to prioritize the work of our Spirit. But we did it day by day, carving away a little seat in our lives for our practice.
And now let the stories be told. We will know in our hearts without a doubt what this meditation has done for each of us. I believe the results are incomprehensible. I have faith knowing that this meditation has in fact brought forth the light within each of us to take the very important steps in front of us with courage, intelligence, and joy.
Join us for the last two days of the 40-day Global Sadhana meditation live from Costa Rica on March 15th and 16th at 10:20 AM PTD.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Today we had the funeral service for my mother in law, Donna Lawrence. She died on Sunday morning peacefully in her sleep after months and months of suffering from a debilitating disease. Her husband cared for her with such incredible love these past months that it inspired my brother in law to say in the funeral service, “he showed me how to be a man.” I don’t know why she had to suffer so much. She was perhaps the most kind person I have ever known.
It was in fact my mother in law who picked out my wedding ring. She called Sopurkh one day and said, “I don’t know, this ring just seems to be the one.” It was in fact the perfect ring....still within my husband’s budget, but sparkly enough to make me feel special. This morning as I put on the ring, and a blue crystal necklace that she had given to me I looked in the mirror and felt a pang of sadness tug at my heart as I realized the loss I felt inside. I hoped as I did a full circle that if I just kind of kept moving it would create enough sparkle that I would at least honor my mother in law as opposed to just sitting down with my head in my hands and crying which is what I felt like doing.
Such a beautiful lady, such a beautiful grandmother. It felt strange to have the realization that my daughter would not have the opportunity to grow flowers in the garden and find salamanders on the road with her grandmother.
As we entered the Church this morning and sat down, I could feel the collective burden of eyes on us as all of her friends and family looked at us as we took our seats. This day had brought some blessings. One was that my husband and his brother were reunited after many years. During the service the two of them got up together to speak about their mother. As they spoke, I could feel the great history between the two of them with many snow ball fights, swims, camping trips, and I’m sure plenty of mischief. More importantly I could feel the love that their mother had showered so graciously upon them. And now, their love for her was coming out in their words so pure, and so true.
Their stories brought everyone to tears, including Grandpa who sat next to me. I could do nothing but put my arms around him. What do you do in moments like these? What do you do with pure love? You can only be present with it. And that is in fact the present that Donna gave to us. It was just pure love. She was just a loving and kind person through and through.
If you were a turtle who happened to be trying to cross the road outside of her house, her dogs, her sons who grew up with her, her beloved husband, her daughter in law, her grand son, her grand daughter, or simply her friend.... you were damn lucky. You got love... you got pure love.
And so later that day as I shopped for some snacks for my daughter and my cart smashed into the cracker shelf, instead of getting frustrated and allowing one of my classic “I’ve had it looks! “ that my daughter has seen so many times, I decided to take a deep breath and smile. I got inspired to be like Donna.... to find the way no matter what to be loving and kind. “She did it” I thought to myself. “I can do it too.” I know that her life had struggles. I know that all of our lives do. Yet she rose above. Blessings to all of us that we can too. And blessings to the Soul of Donna, thank you for all that you have done for us.