Inhale fully, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, and hold...
"I was aged about sixteen or seventeen years, when I, the slackest and least ideal of boys, with my life already made dark by those desires of body and heart with which we so soon learn to taint our youth, became aware of a mysterious life quickening within my life... They were like strangers who suddenly enter a house, who brush aside the doorkeeper, and who will not be denied. Soon I knew they were the rightful owners and heirs of the house of the body, and the doorkeeper was only one who was for a time in charge, who had neglected his duty, and who had pretended to ownership. The boy who existed before was an alien. He hid himself when the pilgrim of eternity took up his abode in the dwelling. Yet, whenever the true owner was absent, the sly creature reappeared and boasted himself as master once more."
Exhale fully, and release.
Twenty seconds is usually perceived as a short time, but not if you're holding your breath, and especially if you're holding a yoga pose with your arms above your head. The process described above by mystic poet George William Russell, written in 1918, closely resembles the experience that practicing a daily Aquarian Sadhana revealed to me almost 100 years later (read it again if holding your breath made you rush through it too fast).
The Aquarian Sadhana is a group practice in the Kundalini Yoga community in which participants, from 4 to 6:30 in the morning, get up to recite Sikh prayers, practice yoga, and sing mantras, and for the first 40 consecutive mornings of 2017, it was made immediately apparent to me that the discipline was training my "ego" or "self" to be a better steward of my body and mind so that my "higher self" could enter, a process that Russell alludes to quite eloquently in the passage above. To deconstruct those terms, the voice inside my head, always judging, complaining, scrutinizing, criticizing, and incessantly chattering, was being put to work to clean house and make room for a much bigger and better part of myself to arrive and work through me and for me.
Half awake and getting in my car to drive to the second day of sadhana after a night of reading Russell's book, my phone began unexpectedly playing my music through my car speakers. It sounded like Bob Marley was reminding me that there was some part of myself previously only known through brief glimpses that "wanted to love me and treat me right." Though alone, I was slightly embarrassed to find that the feelings of deep love and understanding that began to wash over me were bringing me to tears. It was this seemingly random coincidence that hinted to me that I was beginning a profound process of transformation.
If you’re still reading and think that I’m crazy, it’s perfectly understandable. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning for two and a half hours of yoga, meditation, and mantra chanting in a room full of turban-clad people dressed in all white just isn't something that normal people do. One friend told me she's even heard people refer to us kundalini yogis as kundaloonies, but.. Sadhana just feels good. Until I tried it for myself, I never would have thought it possible to have enough energy to make it through my day without coffee (provided time allows for a small nap, of course). Since beginning this discipline, I have also inadvertently abstained from alcohol, cannabis (a plant medicine that I once heavily abused), and releasing any sexual energy, which kundalini yoga helps to move through the body and repurpose into energy used for other creative outlets.
I have since stopped attending sadhana every morning for a variety of reasons (night classes and night life jobs being a major factor), but I felt on the morning of day 47, when I decided to break my combo, that I had somewhat screwed myself. Despite getting more sleep than I had in weeks, I felt more tired than I would have if I had gone, and was in a poor mood for most of the day. Having tested what life is like without sadhana, I've since gone back whenever my schedule permits, which has included going straight from closing the kava lounge I work at at 3 am. I'm considering becoming nocturnal to manage my schedule, but haven't quite gotten around to it.
I have much more to write about my forays into the wacky, wonderful, and brightly white world of kundalini yoga, most notably concerning several profound lucid dreams I've had while falling asleep during sadhana, but I'm going to end this piece by announcing that I've decided to take my relationship with it to the next level: in addition to juggling two jobs and massage school night classes three times a week, I've decided to commit to a kundalini yoga teacher training that will take place on one weekend every month for the next seven months.
I've had my life for over 24 years and am really just starting to discover that it's in my best interest to use it to be of service to others (ironic, right?). By the time this year ends, my goal is to be a licensed bodyworker as well as a certified kundalini yoga instructor. I intend to use these powerful healing tools to help others better understand and improve their lives, and to also help support myself financially.
Thanks for reading, and remind me to update you on just how deep this rabbit hole has gone so far. More coming soon.