I Hate Kundalini Yoga

I don’t practice Kundalini Yoga much anymore. I did it in college a bit, one of the few yoga centers in Eugene was a Kundalini Yoga center, complete with a Guru Granth Sahib. I thought Yogi Bhajan was amazing, and got to hear him speak in 2000, when I spent the week at Casa De Guru Ram Das. They kicked me out, eventually, which is a small point of pride, but I wish that I had done something more exciting to deserve it. That is another story. As my practice evolved, I gravitated towards vinyasa, and then yin. Kundalini fell by the wayside. My studies in ayurveda led me to the conclusion that I would be best served by grounding and calming practices, instead of kriyas that sought to force energy up my spine through any means necessary.
I got an email from the wellness center down the way the other day, saying that there was a Kundalini Yoga teacher visiting from mexico, that she was offering a class, and it was ten bucks. I didn’t have any other plans for saturday afternoon, and decided to walk over and participate. I walked over as mindfully as I could. I have been reading The Miracle of Mindfulness By Thich Nhat Hanh, and have been redoubling my efforts to keep my mind in present time awareness. Its been a while since I’ve read any TNH, and I forgot how much I liked him. I might even ask my meditation and/or yin yoga students to give the book a try. So, I was walking, aware that i was walking. Then I was sitting in class with everyone else, aware that I was sitting in class with everyone else. I was ready to put my body in shapes, and be aware that my body was in those shapes.
Practice began, and I was enjoying well enough. Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo. It had been years since I chanted that. Rolling my hips open, Breath of Fire, many long minutes of leg lifts. Then I got grumpy. A voice in my head, one that is often convincing, told me, “I hate this. I hate this. I hate kundalini yoga.” I was aware that there was a voice in my head that was hateful. I was about to agree, to defer to the opinion of this voice. But then, another voice countered, “So what?” Yeah. So what? My body felt good, and my breath was flowing, and the hatred seemed pretty unsubstantiated. I went on back to practicing, the So What mantra spinning round the stupa of my mind. Inhale So, exhale What.
The voice came back, it sounded younger this time, brattier, “I hate Kundalini Yoga!”
“Why do you hate it?”
“It’s Hard!” The voice whined, if it had feet, it would have stomped its feet.
All I could do was offer a little internal shrug, explain that the yoga practice was going to continue, and that the voice was certainly welcome to vacate the premises should it so desire.
So, that’s pretty much it. My back got a little tight after that, which also tempted me to slack off, but I decided that it was a pranic thing, and that by being mindful of the way that the energy wanted to move through my body, and practicing in a way that would support it would be the best thing to do. I think it worked. Class ended, and I was aware of it ending.
So, class was good. I liked it. I doubt I’m going to go full turban or anything, but I think I’ll work it into my regimen a little more often.
I know that its standard mindfulness jargon to discuss how we are not our thoughts. Its not uncommon for meditators to have a thought that they identify with, and then through practice have the insight that the thought is not them, and certainly not aligned with their highest aspirations. Its not even new for me. But, Its a good thing to remember, especially because thoughts can also come wrapped up nice and tight with a collection of unpleasant emotions. Thought have one way of convincing us, and emotions, another. Just like the book title suggests, getting enough space to see them for what they are is nothing short of a miracle.
The brat was endearing, in its way, and it certainly felt good to relate to him with a bemused attitude and a firm hand. Brats need discipline. And I’m super fond of my new mantra, “So What?” I think I’m going to get a lot of milage out of that one. Today wasn’t the first day that I was confronted by a bratty voice shouting opinions that are both urgent and irrelevant, and I can’t imagine it will be the last. I’m glad I’ve got a response, and I am aware that I am glad.

Say God by Daniel Higgs

Say God by Daniel Higgs

daniel-higgs2I discovered Daniel Higgs, through the song, “Say God”. This poem/song/whatever is deeply moving to me, and it is the kind of thoughts that I would like to have rolling through my head all the time. Or, at least, I would like an abundance of thoughts like these to frame the lack of thoughts like these.

You click here to buy his stuff on amazon, of course

First Day in Vrindavan

There were bramacharis from the San Diego ISKON temple in vrindavan the same time we were there.  Young pink skinned boys in clean pink robes.  You couldn’t tell which was paler.  One brown skinned boy, too.  Carlos.  Smart kid.  He wore glasses, and kept them attached to his head with those sports straps.  Monkeys, he explained.  The monkeys were everywhere.  And they would steal your glasses right off your face.  If you were lucky, you could pay the monkeys with bananas, and get them back.  Monkeys have a profession.  I’ve heard it said that the monkeys are reincarnations of black magicians and sorcerers, and so, even now, they are always fighting with each other, playing tricks on people, causing chaos.  By feeding the monkeys freely, and giving enough to all of them, you give them a chance to calm down and be nice for a moment.  With just a few bananas a day, you can help free a monkey from their never ending cycle of bad karma.  I helped feed a whole grip of monkeys and people at the Hanuman temple in vrindavan, but that doesn’t come until later.  We’ll come back to that.
The bramacharis, led by temple director Mahan Tattva, were going to all these holy sites in and around vrindavan, and the day we arrived they were going to the Radha Temple in Barsana. We were invited to go along.  Jasmine got us an in.  So Franklin, Jasmine, and I joined the seven pink young men and the three householders that were traveling with them.  Mahan Tattva negotiated a decent price on three tuk-tuks, and we all piled in, and took off down the road.
Barsana, for those of you who have never heard of it before (and why would you) is the birthplace and childhood home of Radha, so its considered sacred, and this otherwise sleepy tiny little village has been built up with fabulously ornate and gorgeous temples, connected by little windy pathways that are dotted with smaller, folksier shrines every twenty meters or so. One of the little roads ends up at Radha Kund, a square, murky pool surrounded by gray stone steps that descend into it. Legend has it that Radha used to bathe here. There were no gopis bathing in it today, perhaps we go there too late. At this time of day the kund is only populated by small boys looking for change and monkeys laying in wait, in case anyone dared to eat ice cream on their turf. One of our dudes ended up scratched. Ice cream at the Kund is a bad idea.
Anyhow, back to the tuk-tuk. It got more and more rural, as we cruised to Barsana. Up to this point, Vrindavan was as calm and as quiet as we had seen.  Delhi was a total madhouse, loud and colorful and dirty and chaotic and magical, like the vomit of God.  The road from Delhi to Vrindavan was much like any major road; sometimes busy, sometimes quiet, and dotted with little stores and rest stops.  But it wasn’t rural, per se.  This road to Barsana, was decorated with those most beloved by Krishna, the cows.  Swishing tails, or not, laying in the grass, or not, they increased in number the further down the road we got.  As did the smell of cows, of course, you can’t have one without the other.  It wasn’t so bad really.  Especially as the buildings and the crowds disappeared and the landscape opened up, and the fields of green started to go on forever.  The odors out here were far preferable to what we were subjected to in Delhi.  And, apparently, cow dung is big business out here.  Someone is making bank on cow patties.  It would be nice if they would put some of it back into the neighborhood, though.  some of the grass and clay huts could certainly use a fresh coat of paint.
And then, Barsana.  Fabulously rising out of the grass, as we approached.  An ancient temple city full of begging salesmen and children that descended upon us as we  pried ourselves from our tiny conveyance. Shoes off and safely stashed, we made our way up, following the pink robes and tufts of hair that bobbed devotedly up the ancient street.  Holy men and widows and all manner of folks murmured, hawked, shouted at us  as we made our pilgramage to the top of the hill, to this most sacred space.  A veritable gauntlet.
Mahan Tattva, the head gopi in charge warned us, “its holi, people might throw color on you, but its a friendly thing.”  He doesn’t know us, clearly.  We came for this.  And so, we moved slowly up the last set of stairs before the main hall, curious what lay past the scallopped archways.  There was Holi, in all its glory.  A room full of wild chanting and music, multi colored people jumping and dancing and throwing color in the air.  The sad looking monks were pretty attached to their robes staying nice and pink, so we left them in the corner and pounced into the center of the action.  The light, soft and pure, was the perfect medium for the rainbow of dust to play inside of.  We laughed and danced, and kept winding our way closer to where ever the color happened to be coming from, ‘over there, green! now over there, orange!’  Each dusting a benediction, confirmation from the universe that we were loved.
We might have been the liveliest westerners in the joint. We liked to think we were the liveliest westerners ever. People we psyched to see us join in the fun. They were psyched in general, but as we played along, they pulled us immediately into the fold. Kids jumped on us, laughing, strong backed 20-somethings lifted us into the air laughing, even louder when we lifted them up right back. Hare Krishna, Hare Bol, Happy Holi, we bellowed at each other, celebrating whatever Holi is meant to be celebrating, until we were properly covered and needing to claw ourselves out from the throng to get a breath of unpowdered air. The monks nodded and laughed when they saw us emerge, properly dosed. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were a little jealous that they had to sit on the sidelines, sublimely sipping rasa, as we feasted on these sacred but clearly worldy delights, riding the line, walking the edge. I suppose that renunciation is a bitch. Sometimes more than others.
They whisked us back down the hill, to drink sugar cane juice and lemon sodas before climbing back into the tuk-tuks that would take us all home to the relative quiet of vrindavan. Try as we might to keep things neat, we got red powder all over the hotel room. Maybe some of it is still there, a fingerprint on that wall, a smudge on the bookcase. Another, secret benediction, sharing the love, worldwide puja.

One of my yogic clearing and grounding meditation practices

I find the Duncan Trussel Family Hour Forum to be really interesting. I was on there the other day, and was reading a thread about western magic, and their rituals. There was a practice called ‘The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual’. It struck me that it was very similar to a practice that I do, only with traditional tantric visualization, meditation and mantra. So, I decided to type my practice out, in both the interest of serving people who might find this practice useful, and also as a curiosity for those who simply like to compare spiritual practices cross culturally. I hope you enjoy.

Back in the Land of the Living

Its good to be back, talking to you all again. As many of you know, I had an injury last month, and I was pretty much laid up for all of August. I’ve emerged, and I’m pretty much back to normal. I’ve taught a few classes, and built a few websites, and life is getting back on track. A bunch of you called and emailed and visited, and found various ways to be supportive, and I really appreciate it. It was very nice of you, and inpsired me to commit to do the same, if any of my friends should ever suffer a similar fate. Although I hope not. I would certainly prefer if nobody ever got punched in the face ever again, until the time comes that the sun refuses to shine. However, knowing that there will continue to be sickness, old age, and death, there will also continue to be deliveries of juice, and kindness. So it goes, my favorite Vonnegut quote. Which makes me think I should read more Vonnegut, I’m sure he’s got a few other gems.
Oh, and it just occurred to me that maybe some of you are not aware of my healing adventure, in which case, you can read this blog post by my friend Elise. She captures a day in the life of a guy with a broken face quite well. I’m also working on a short book, which will be release in ebook form, “So You Broke Your Face”. Again, I hope it has a very narrow audience. And maybe in the future, I’ll email y’all some of the insights that arose from the experience, but not today. Today, I just want to say hi. So, Hi!
Oh, and if you want to come to Yin Yoga Teacher Training, a workshop, or have a private yoga lesson, or have me build a website, that would be awesome, because, apparently, hospital bills don’t just go away if you ignore them. Thanks, Love you, Daniel
P.S. It was recently pointed out to me that me that the signature line in my email has the quote:
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
-Leonard Cohen
I am feeling like I’ve learned that lesson as fully as I care to. I feel like, in this lifetime, I really have enough cracks. My face has just about as much light as I can take. If anyone wants to share some other quotes that maybe will promote a lessons and manifestations that are more pleasant and delightful, I’d love to hear them. OM Om

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