I am not a trained meditation teacher, but I have been practicing meditation for over 35 years, so I guess that gives me some credibility. When I started teaching meditation a couple of years ago, my goal was to help people who wanted to learn how to meditate. Many people in that first classes told me “ Oh, I just can’t meditate”. Well after the first class many of them changed their view on meditation and realized that yes, they could meditate.
In each class, we would go over the many scientifically proven benefits. Then we would work on meditation techniques: Breathwork, letting go of thoughts, and just learning the basics. I always stress that this is a practice, not a perfect. No self-judgment. Keep at it, if only for a couple of minutes.
As the weeks went on, more and more people came to class. It really caught on. Some of the people in class even got into our yoga practice. It was really great. Then the pandemic hit. So I moved the class online and also offered it for free on Zoom. A few of the regulars who had been coming to class, also came to the online meditation class. Some didn’t. As the weeks turned into months, more and more people started joining us on Zoom.
I posted the class on my Temple website with great results. We started to get people from all over the country. One of our students lives in Pittsburgh. My daughter-in-law's parents live in Austin Texas. My daughter-in-law lives in San Francisco. We have had people from Colorado and some even from overseas.
As the weeks went by, we had a core group of about 15 people every week. Then an amazing thing happened: We all became friends, and when one misses a class, the others always ask about them. The group is very open and many offer comments on their experience during the meditations. Some see visions of light, others cry, and the group listens and shares with no judgment. It has really turned into something wonderful every Monday night.
A few months ago, I started having a theme every week. One of the themes was compassion. Self-love, forgiveness, dealing with grief, living in the now, and many more. The week we did the forgiveness meditation, one of the new students came back the next week and told the group that because of that meditation on forgiveness, she reconnected with her sister who she hadn’t spoken to in ten years Wow! I shared how my own experience with forgiveness let me reconnect with my brother who I hadn't spoken with for nineteen years!!
This past Monday, I had what Oprah might call an "ah-ha moment”. I realized that I was teaching so much more than meditation. I was teaching people how to live happier, more fulfilling lives. The lessons from the guided meditations were powerful. I looked back in my mind and I saw the transformation in some of the people, from a hectic stressful life, into a calmer more centered life.
I am so humbled by this class and the group of wonderful people who share and care about each other with genuine affection. I must also acknowledge and give thanks to Savitri for being there with us every week, she is also such an important part of our group. I don’t know where this path will lead, but I will continue on Monday nights as long as even one person shows up.
Please join us if you like. It’s free and you can see how wonderful Monday nights can be when we come together in this way.
---Andy (Teg) Steinfeld
Last week Manush had us go into deep relaxation in child’s pose instead of shivasana, which I found uniquely opening and relaxing. It was particularly effective for a mindful sort of letting go, especially after the more advanced Kriya Manush offered that day, and I noticed how deeply restored I felt afterward.
I remember my sister, as a child, spent a lot of time in child's pose, it seemed to soothe her, to make her feel safe and secure, especially after something physically, mentally or emotionally trying. Both adults and children like to relax and recover in child's pose; it is such a natural pose that allows the overworked adrenal gland area to uncontract, stretch open and decompress so we can really rest and renew.
Along with being restorative and comforting, I can always feel this pose opening up my gluts, hips, lower back, and really the entire back and shoulders when my arms are stretched forward. All the energy and blood flow is naturally directed to the third eye as the forehead rests on the mat. Let's face it, we need our third eye in today's world, now more than ever, to discern truth so we can form a strategic perspective from which to make the most optimal choices.
Child’s pose, or balasana in Sanskrit, is a beginner’s yoga pose designed to relax the mind and body. The Sanskrit word bala, means “young or child-like,” and asana, means “yoga posture.” Child’s pose stretches the whole spine, the hips and thighs and even the ankles. When the arms are in a variation with the arms stretched forward, the wrists, elbows, shoulders and fingers get a profound stretch as well. Yoga mudra, a variation in which the hands are clasped behind the back then raised up as high as possible while in child’s pose, stimulates all the acupuncture meridians in the arms, shoulders and chest, including the all important lung meridian for immune strength.
Deep breathing is encouraged in this pose, so whether you’re an experienced yogi or brand new to the practice, it serves to reduce fatigue and anxiety, encourages a tranquil mind, and lets the nervous system relax. The tension relief is profound, especially throughout the quads, hamstrings, chest, shoulder and back and this relaxation radiates out to every other part of the body.
Child’s pose increases blood circulation to the head and therefore to the pituitary, thalamus and pineal glands and that’s why it’s included in kriyas for the glands of the head. Because the pituitary gland is considered the master gland, the entire endocrine system also benefits. The increased blood flow to the brain means better memory and mind function, including better communication and comprehension. Who among us can't greatly benefit from that?
Child’s pose is famous for improving digestion and elimination because a slight compression of the abdomen stimulates all the abdominal nerves and subtle channels. he legs can be widened to leave room for the belly and deep belly breaths in this pose, which deepens relaxation while activating digestion.
We sometimes encourage props in child’s pose if we know someone has had an injury or other challenge, especially to the hip or knee: A rolled towel below your shins, to take the weight off the ankles, or a blanket, pillow, bolster or just your hands beneath your forehead can help the whole body relax. I find that making a pillow for my head with my hands, with closed eyes, consciously relaxing the jaw and the back of the head where it meets the neck, really helps the entire body relax.
If you feel pain anywhere in the body, just sit up and take a break. If your hip joints are tight, consider keeping your knees together and lowering your torso on top of your thighs with your arms beside or in front of you. For a more passive pose, let your arms relax behind you, palms up, and rest the torso with your abdomen between your thighs. Use caution when practicing child’s pose if you’ve suffered a knee or hip injury or more recent surgery. As with all yoga poses, you may even want to ask your doctor or physical therapist before trying the pose.
Occasionally, when my energy isn't up to par, or if I've been through something especially challenging, I may feel like spending the whole class recovering in Child's pose, and the beautiful thing about Kundalini Yoga is (if I'm not teaching) I will do just that! I know and feel that I am still benefitting from the inspiration and aspiration of everyone else I'm practicing with. In every class, we encourage each other to honor our mind, body and spirit, to be mindful of what you need right now, just as we are. We are together, not only to challenge each other, but to support and nurture each other with understanding and compassion. That's what I love most about Montclair Kundalini Yoga.
Sending Love to all!
I am delving deeply into my Chi Gung practice with renewed vigor these days, studying with the legendary Tai Chi and Chi Gung master Robert Chuckrow, who happens to be a member of Cate’s extended family. Cate called me one fine day, “You have to meet Robert!”. And it has been a cascade of blessings ever since.
I actually met Robert at the Tai Chi Farm festival in upstate New York many years ago, where he autographed one of his earlier books for me. Robert is the author of ‘Tai Chi Walking: A Low-Impact Path to Better Health, The Tai Chi Book, Tai Chi Dynamics and his latest masterpiece, which he finished in March, ‘Tai Chi Concepts: Hidden Strength, Natural Movement, and Timing.’ His website https://chuckrowtaichi.com has a wealth of excellently written articles and intriguing videos on a variety of topics that we have been exploring with great interest. His recent talk on nutrition, as also detailed in his articles, was especially fascinating to me.
Along with offering valuable input and instruction whenever he can make it to our Friday MKY Chi Gung practice sessions, Robert has generously invited our members to his own classes, so please let us know if you are interested; we are all learning so much! Robert is a treasure trove of knowledge, skill and refined wisdom, having studied with the most accomplished Chi Gung and Tai Chi masters in the world, including those credited with first introducing and perpetuating the Asian martial arts for chi cultivation in the West.
As a long-time physics professor and writer, Robert succinctly explains and demonstrates the subtle nuances of these techniques and reveals important insights, some of which have never before been elucidated in English. Robert teaches with grounded commonsense, delightful humor and an intriguing touch of mysticism. He emblazons his own bold signature on the ancient Taoist arts, as many of the great masters have done, and this has served to take my own practice and understanding to a whole new level. He continues to develop and progress these arts by combining concepts from physics, body work and movement traditions, synthesized with his unique, highly tuned process of inquiry.
Robert brings the Taoist arts vividly alive for us by constantly emphasizing discovery and experimentation. His own tireless sense of wonder encourages us to explore new vistas of consciousness in every session. With characteristic enthusiasm, he models how to make the practice ever fresh, ever new, as we unlock the powerful flow of healing Chi in countless ways. Even if I live 300 years or more, I could never run out of new things to explore: That’s the secret Robert manages to impart. Each insight he shares goes far beyond the practice floor, and when applied comprehensively, leads to a strong life, well lived. As we endlessly explore and polish our practice, we polish our lives.
Please join us in this fascinating process of self-discovery. ----- Savitri
Kidd was my child, my friend, my Guru and the light of my life. Kitty’s passing from the physical plane has been so difficult. While it is human nature to worry and grieve, I have to wonder if my own extreme worry and grief is evidence of my attachment, my self-identification with outer appearances rather than right alignment with spiritual source.
I was driven by my attachment to a certain outcome, driven by my fear of loss, fear for my dear loved one to be swallowed up by the great unknown - selfish fear of having to live without him. I was intensely uncomfortable with the feeling of being out of control! My attractions and aversions, my preferences, my strong impulse to control and muscle through every grueling hour drove me to exhaustion. I desperately tried to make things go the way I wanted them to go and not the way I didn’t want them to go. Through this ordeal, I have to confess that I lost my center as I lost my trust in the Divine order.
For a full month, I feverishly tried to heal Kidd’s little body. I woke up nearly every hour of the night to check on him, his eyes invariably wide open, staring into Infinity. I would make sure his little chest was still rising and falling and offer him a dropper full of water, then try unsuccessfully to fall back asleep. I tried absolutely everything I could think of to heal him, I ordered natural supplements online almost every day, just sure that each one would help him turn the corner. I sought out the most brilliant, natural veterinarians who also fell in love with him, I made up complicated schedules and lamented when he didn’t respond the way I hoped he would.
During this time, I tried to keep up with my meditations, to get some sleep. I tried to center myself in equanimity. But as August soldiered on, I got more and more taken out. I looked and felt like I’d fought seven wars in a row, SO weary. Was I fighting a war with God, with the world, unaccepting of the truth - that it was just Kidd’s time, not allowing reality to just be the way that it is?
But I couldn’t seem to help myself. I knew I was totally losing my core of serenity day after day but found it harder and harder to stay peaceful, for even short intervals. It takes a certain kind of wise soul to be a caretaker for someone they love and stay sane, and I am not that wise it seems.
My strong attachment to a certain outcome was the water I swam in day after day. Even though Kidd and I had eighteen glorious years together, my egotistical, perhaps selfish desire was that if I could just perform the right steps, administer the right elixirs, with just the right attitude of love, devotion and patience, that this amazing, purring bliss being would be returned to health so we could have more quality time together. Nothing wrong with trying one’s best, but somehow I secretly believed I could maneuver this desired outcome with pure willpower and forgot that desire and aversion is the root of all suffering.
How worn my spirit became when things didn’t go my way! Instead of contemplating the impermanence of this mortal world, as I was trained to do through my many years as a Buddhist monk, I found myself driven relentlessly by my attachments and desires and ended up suffering intensely.
Was it spiritual ego that kept telling me that I was praying for the best possible outcome, that I was trusting that Eternal Source is always directing everything with Divine intelligence - yet I grew so ragged! How desperate I was to control the relentless tide as it swept in and ravaged the body of my beautiful golden companion who had made life so sweet and beautiful for so many years!
I finally have had to get real and admit that I was just saying the right spiritual things to myself while being totally identified with outer appearances and conditions. I had aligned with the objective world rather than the Divine Presence that is the soul’s foundation, which underlies all appearances and which gives birth to this whole manifest play of opposites.
We do the very best we can for others, of course we do, but equanimity, serenity, grace and freedom dawns when we truly allow everything to be perfect just the way it is: This will be my deep contemplation for years to come.
The intense crying and wailing that resounded through the house after Kidd finally passed from his wasted body eventually whispered softly in my ear, ‘Dear one, to love is so good, so pure. Your pain is the measure of your great love. Honor love in whatever form it takes, but at the same time, recognize that you got badly burned by not trusting in Divine order. Let your intense suffering show you how to stop playing with fire. Come home to the true self.’
If you have been to any of my classes, you know my passion for natural healing and for the natural world. I've found that many of our community members share this passion. I’m not a medical professional but have learned a lot from my herbalist friends and love to share. Please read up before using wild or cultivated herbs and mind the cautions. These pictures are from my midsummer garden and the healthy benefits described below are just a few of their wonderful qualities. I encourage the whole community to share about their gardens and add pictures and talk about how you use your plants for healing, beauty and for food.
Mint and Lemon Balm
Mint is a miracle herb for digestive discomfort. Whenever I have a stomachache, I drink mint tea or just chew some mint and it almost immediately relieves it. Even a peppermint lozenge works wonders for this. Mint is also used to treat IBS, to improve cold symptoms, to reduce pain and to freshen the breath. Lemon balm, which is in the mint family, has many of these same qualities and is a miracle herb for the nervous system, it calms and soothes and helps with sleep. Peppermint and spearmint are among the other variations in the mint family and all can be dried and used in teas and smoothies or just chewed. Invigorating peppermint oil is wonderful in soaps and lotions and a few drops can even be added to a glass drinking water.
I cook almost every day with this herb, blanched almonds soaked in coconut amino acids and rosemary, then dried are so delicious (they sell them at Trader joe’s too, that’s where I got the idea). Rosemary helps with digestion, heartburn, gas and loss of appetite. It also can treat gout, coughs, headaches, blood pressure issues, stress and depression. Rosemary oil increases circulation which helps relieve muscle aches and arthritis - it is also famous for hair, it is added to shampoos and rinses and is a remedy for hair loss as it stimulates circulation when rubbed into the scalp, which also can help with head pain as well as concentration and memory retention.
I like to crush lavender leaves up and just inhale their scent, it instantly cheers me up. At our MKY yoga teacher Jennifer's behest, I recently used lavender oil on a real bad burn and was astounded at how fast it began to heal! So grateful! It is good for all kinds of wound healing, fungal infections and muscle pain. It is also good to rub on the scalp to prevent hair loss and when rubbed on the skin and inhaled is good for emotional symptoms, including premenstrual angst and moodiness.
Queen of all Chinese herbs, the berries have been famous for centuries for women’s beauty. It lowers inflammation, supports adrenal function, improves liver function, protects and beautifies the skin, improves mental functions and helps with healthy sexuality. I’m still waiting for my four thriving plants (planted in the shade) to bear berries. Probably will have to consult my local gardening club about this soon. Schizandra cleans both the liver and the blood at the same time. Just a wonderful five flavor herb that improves all-around health, perhaps more than any other herb.
I first became interested in this plant when I got bit by a tick as it contains resveratrol, the number one herb for Lyme disease and it grows in abundance in all the places where lyme it prevalent. It is also high in vitamin A and C and antioxidants that support vision. It reduces inflammation, boosts immunity and promotes brain health. It is also known to detox the liver and prevent heart disease, reduce cholesterol, maintain healthy blood sugar and beautify the skin. It can reduce inflammation in the GI tract and treat gout as well. Resveratrol also induces autophagy, which cleans up the whole body, repairing every cell. Quite a powerhouse, anti-aging herb!. I gather this herb wherever I can find it, which is almost anywhere, because my plants are still so young. I make tea from the stems and leaves and also add the stems to my smoothies.
Rosehips are the big round bulbs that remain after a rose dies. I have a virtual rose garden in my yard and dry all my rosehips and grind them up in the coffee grinder and steep them in tea. Rosehips are a potent form of vitamin C and have been used to treat diabetes, diarrhea, digestive disorders, urinary tract infections and the flu.Read up on rosehips before using them as there are some cautions. Rose hip oil is one of the most famous beauty oils around. The biggest rose hips I’ve ever seen are by the beach.
Please tell us about your garden, even if it’s a windowsill garden, in the comments below. We love our plants and benefit from them so much, so let’s share the love.
Next month, in this botanical vein, we are going to explore yoni herbs, yoni steaming and flower essences that assist that part of the body, including the perineum point which often deserves healing in females. Marla, one of our cherished members, along with myself, will share expertise and resources. If you have any knowledge in this area, please get ready to share on our August blog. Sat Nam and Wahe Guru!!!
Dear Beloved MKY Community,
The month of June is widely recognized as Pride Month by the members of the LGBTQ+ community and the allies who support them. As one of MKY’s openly-gay teaching staff, I’m grateful to share with you all what this month means to me, especially so as a yogi.
Recognize that the other person is you.
I came out in January, 2013 at the age of 18 in what I’ve ultimately recognized to be the most decisive, fear-filled, and liberating moment of my life. For all my adolescent years, I firmly believed that if I could not conceal the fact that I was gay, I would be bullied, ridiculed, and––most terrifyingly of all–– friendless. The fear gripped me tightly. I learned to suppress and distort my sexuality by pretending to be straight at a time when my coming-of-age energies were most fragile and in need of awareness.
There is a way through every block.
After years of lying both to myself and to others, I had not only developed a chronic pain condition, my mental health had truly collapsed and I’d fallen into a dark sense of despair. Daily life was a prison, of which I felt the victim with no identifiable way out. Until one day, when I saw that the way out was through.
When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
As I stepped on stage in front of my entire high school to receive an acting award and deliver a short speech–– for my performances in drama and musical theatre–– I became faced with a completely new destiny. My heart rate exploded and my vision went tunnel… and yet, somehow, the words left my lips and into the microphone and told the whole world that I was gay. The moment I finished speaking, something within me bloomed that has never left me since. A commitment to the integrity of a much deeper truth.
Vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos will clear a path.
After years of advocacy and dedication to social reform, I experienced a spontaneous & life-changing spiritual awakening (satori) that led me, in part, to the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.
As a yogi, I’ve learned so much about how to relate not only to myself as a gay person, but as a man and a spiritual being a part of something larger than myself–– my beloved community, my sadh sangat. By Grace, devotion, discipline, and meditation has slowly begun to bloom in me. My dedication to the practices of Kundalini Yoga is renewed with every moment of beauty and experience that flows through me when I teach and take class. Praying and chanting has brought my gay identity into a space where it doesn’t become a center, but just another piece of the foundation of my inner self-esteem.
After coming out, I relied too heavily on “being gay” as a source of “pride”. Quite frankly, that identity became a crutch for a deeper sense of insecurity, which has taken many years to accept and transcend. I don’t mean to imply that this is the case for others who strongly identify with their sexual (or other) identities, but it certainly was true for me. Kundalini Yoga has inspired me to go deeper and let go of so many aspects of my personality that despite their appearance were really limitations.
And yet, I am grateful that my gay identity has continued to be a foundation of service to others. Today I run an LGBTQ+ nonprofit that helps to foster heart-centered leaders in our community, and––cut short by the pandemic–– fellow MKY teacher KiMani Divine & I offered free kundalini yoga to homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York.
Spiritual work has enabled me to integrate so many of my identities and lean on trust in God and the deeper wisdoms that pulse in unknown spaces of my heart. For me, Pride Month is a reminder of how far I’ve come, how supported I’ve been by so many people over the years, and where my work lies ahead: Choosing to love others and myself at all times, in all places, no matter what.
The Aquarian Age is full to the brim with collective challenges of body, mind, and spirit, but the most beautiful part is we are not alone. Everyone needs mirrors at times to remind them of the beauty inside. For some that may be a Pride celebration, and for others it may be a class with spiritual family at Montclair Kundalini Yoga. Or, for someone like me, it might be both.
Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand
Sat Nam!!! Wahe Guru!!
Manush teaches a weekly online Kundalini Yoga class & co-leads monthly Online New Moon Healing Ceremonies with Kimani Divine.
MKY's beloved teacher, Kathy Livingston, first came to yoga in a moment of need. In her memoir Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace, she recounts how yoga informed and helped her on her journey through fear. Having been raised on a steady diet of worst case scenarios, Kathy finds she has to reinvent herself in middle age in order to face and move through her reality. Below are excerpts from her relatable, humorous, and poignantly-told story.
I've come to yoga... because I'm falling apart. My therapist (a soft-spoken, slender lady whom I've recently begun seeing) believes it might pull me together. I'm doubtful, but what's to lose? I have a wonderful husband, three perfect boys and a charming little home in a New Jersey suburb. On the outside I appear content and in control, but something tugs violently at my heart each morning: the mistakes I've made, the wrong turns I've taken, the losses that come with middle age, including the deaths of both of my parents. I have yet to find the gains of aging (except at my waist). Might yoga be a path?
I need a path because life has come to a sudden halt, as if I've stubbed my toe at the gate to year fifty, and sit bleeding. I'm afraid to pick myself up and carry on. I'm afraid to move forward, and I can't go back, and in my paralyzed state, I wonder if I'll even be able to figure this yoga thing out at all. In the past, I would have turned to my mother; though she couldn't calm my fears because she had too many of her own, at least we could commiserate. But now she's gone, and there's no one who seems to understand the agitated state of my mind. When I crawl into bed at night, my thoughts take hours to settle, and even when I'm sleeping my worries seem to hum and vibrate beneath my pillow. I'm literally "driving myself crazy," and without my mom in the passenger seat, I know I can't continue to travel through life in this way.
I'm afraid of little things, like traffic merges and snapping turtles, but I'm also afraid of sending my fifteen-year-old son off to study in England for a month, afraid of flying, of losing my three nearly grown boys to adulthood and independence, frightened at the thought of them going off to college, afraid of illness, terrified of death -- my own and everyone else's -- and even scared of fully enjoying life because it can so easily slip between one's fingers. I hope -- and if I prayed I'd be praying -- that yoga will make a difference. But I'm not a spiritual woman and I'm certainly not an avid exerciser. I haven't been to church in more than twenty years, and the last time I moved fast enough to break a sweat, I was chasing a toddler around a park.
Kathy struggled to get comfortable in yoga classes and in yoga poses and with yoga philosophies, but along the way discovered that they nourished her. She leaned on yoga and her practice developed. Then, after two years of practice, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was forced to face perhaps her greatest fear, her own mortality. She brought so much of what she was learning about herself and life in yoga to getting through her surgery, radiation, and nights of worry. Thankfully, she got through and is cancer-free today.
[My yoga teacher] Jeanine says that Mercury is in retrograde, which supposedly causes some kind of confusion in our lives. I guess I do feel a bit confused; getting to know and love this new person I've become is quite a challenge. I'm a person with seven pinpoint blue tattoos on my breast (used to guide the radiation therapists), a two-inch scar, and a calendar filled with doctor and treatment appointments, a person who had cancer, a person who may still have some cancer cells lurking around that need to be zapped for survival. I'm a woman I never imagined being, as if my past and future selves have just been introduced at a dance neither one of us really wants to attend. "Who is that awkward kid in the plaid dress?" my future self asks. Never mind; just dance with her, show her the steps.
But according to my yoga teachers, this is really not who I am anyway: we are not our thoughts, our words, or our worries. My divine and perfect self is and always has been here, like a cookie in a jar, waiting for a little kid to reach her hand in and pluck it out. I can almost see myself standing in front of that cookie jar, gathering my courage. We need so much courage just to love ourselves.
One of the upsides of moving our studio online during the pandemic is daily connection with Lori Gale. A dedicated and thoughtful practitioner, as well as a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, she shares here part of her journey with MKY. Thank you, Lori, for sharing your heart and your Truth. Thank you for bringing your energy, your devotion, your kindness, your everything to our community day after day. It means the world!
In the before times, I could only make it to MKY one Sunday a month. I was living over 30 miles away, had a demanding job, etc., etc. But what a treat to have Cate as a teacher and to be in community with the other students on those special Sundays. “Let the truth in you guide you” is the heart of why I love Kundalini yoga, and Cate makes this come alive in every class. I signed up right away when I learned that MKY would be offering online classes and moon ceremonies.
My first new moon intention of 2020 was to release pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders. Daily yoga was helping, but this pain was very stubborn. I have come to understand that pain in this location is often the result of feeling overly responsible, as if one is carrying the weight of the world. This certainly describes me, having been a single parent, taking care of a big house on my own, and being in a profession where mistakes could kill people. But now that I have downsized my home and retired from structural engineering, it was time to lay these burdens down.
With the help of our beautiful yoga practice along with Cate and Savitri’s new moon remote Reiki, the physical pain has completely disappeared. It feels great to be able to move freely again, but I continued to be haunted by memories of a bullying situation in my former workplace. Numerous times each day I would find myself engaged in churning thoughts of passive aggressive revenge. I knew I needed to forgive and move on, but the thoughts would not go away. I asked my intuition for guidance, and finally it came during a recent class with Savitri.
Savitri is an amazing healer with a wonderful way of sharing her deep spiritual knowledge. In each class, she lovingly expands on a spiritual topic while the students are doing the asanas. We learn about different spiritual beings, the various types of chi, practices around the world, water, trees, essential oils, fasting, and even coffee. One day Savitri talked about the importance of respecting and integrating our emotions, and it occurred to me to wonder what my emotions really were concerning my workplace bully. As I pondered, the strongest feelings to emerge were shame and embarrassment for letting myself be treated that way, and suddenly I realized that I had never fully let myself feel the shock and terror of being yelled at by someone at work. Recognizing that these were my true emotions felt like a huge thing that needed to come out, almost like having a baby.
When Savitri invited the class to locate the emotions in the body, I could feel them deep below my navel center and could sense another knot of similar emotions in the same location. These were from being bullied as a kid, which happened often because my family moved a lot. In this case too, shame and embarrassment covered up the real hurt. Amazingly there was now a path for all that pain to release, and I lay in shavasana thinking, “whoa, what just happened?” I know there was a deep shift because now I can see that the negative thoughts are just my monkey mind trying to help. I don’t need to engage with them anymore. What a relief!
I am incredibly grateful to all the MKY teachers and students for creating a welcoming and supportive space where we can give and receive the enormous benefits of Kundalini yoga. It has been so great to practice with everyone. Thank you very much! Wahe guru!
Below is a beautiful message from our dear, dear Nicky. She is an MKY Community member, deep thinker, Truth-teller and so much more. She shares here about a profound experience in our recent New Moon Healing Ceremony.
Sat Nam MKY Community,
Wherever you are in the world (inner or outer), I know this message will find you at the perfect moment, in the perfect space and in the most perfect way possible for you at this time.
Synchro-Divinity is when unforeseen circumstances line up perfectly and "coincidentally." They are so perfectly and eerily timed that they just have to be guided by an energetic force bigger than our human self. This is what I have been experiencing with MKY and my own healing practice lately.
Recently, I have been digging deeply into my most intimate relationships (with my father, brother, partner and children). I am finally starting to understand that there are indescribable opportunities for healing within these connections. Every time I discover a new opportunity for healing, it is Synchro-Divinely the intention of the next MKY class I attend. This tells me that I am open and now I have a choice: close back up and avoid the pain or remain open, curious and say "yes". This leads me to the New Moon Healing Ceremony I attended the other night, guided by graceful and radiant souls, Padmani and Manush...
Padmani opened our circle with the most beautiful invocation, inviting us to welcome in our inner child. What is so Synchro-Divine about this? Well, I am reading a book titled How to Do the Work by Dr. Nicole LaPera (The Holistic Psychologist). The chapter I've been focusing on is Chapter 7: Meet Your Inner Child. This chapter has been achingly accurate to things I am realizing about myself, like how my family disregarded my big feelings as a young girl because it made them uncomfortable. As a result, I shut down, closed my heart, and armored up using indifference and aloofness to cover up any and every emotion I experienced. (Yes, even joy.)
My heart ached and jumped for joy when my inner-Nicky came out to play. She was scared and excited at the same time. Scared because she wasn't sure if she would be fully accepted if she showed up as her real self, and joyful because she felt like this was one of the only places where she could fully show up. For a little one, this weird contradiction in feelings can be confusing, but she said "yes" because she trusted us, our community.
As excited as she was, she contracted again when Manush excitedly announced we would be doing Sat Kriya for 15 minutes, but she trusted him, too and knew he wouldn't lead her astray. She said "yes" again.
A few minutes into Sat Kriya, when I started to wonder how in all Holy Hell I'd be able to see this through, my (late) mom appeared and started cheering me on from the Ethers. I haven't felt her this strongly in a little while. She was right there with me, unlike growing up, as she worked two jobs and dismissed so many of my emotions and stories because she was just so exhausted. This was her way of showing up for me. This was her atonement. I accepted it, embraced it, and used it to keep me up. It worked.
Deep relaxation was pure bliss. Every cell in my body was ignited. My DNA was restructuring itself. I could feel it. Was it the yoga, or was it forgiveness? Was it simply because I said, yes? Was it just because I actually showed up to class? I will never truly know, and that's more than OK. The "why" is what trips us up more often than not.
The last meditation started off to be so fun. I remembered when my daughter, Devon, let me record her doing it. I could just hear her singing, "I AM happy. I AM good." Then the tears. Tears, tears, tears. My inner, little Nicky realized that she is good and she is happy. She knows her parents did the best they could with what they had available to them at the time. It's all OK.
I then started to see how harsh I can sometimes be with my own kids. I cried for them. I cried for me. I cried for us. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. I am doing the best I can, and my best changes from day to day, from moment to moment.
SO much went down for me the New Moon Healing. It's not because I'm special. It's not because I've been doing this for a "long time". It's not at all because I am any more "advanced" than anyone else. It's because I said yes. I said yes to allowing a part of me that I thought I lost forever to come out and play in a safe, loving space, even though I knew that this game wouldn't necessarily be the most fun we've ever had.
This is what MKY is for me. My safe place. Yes, I can find that within myself, sure, but to have a community to support your healing in such an authentic and unconditionally loving way, is priceless. If you have yet to attend class or any of our moon ceremonies for whatever reason, one day, I hope you say yes. I hope to see your glowing gorgeous face in all of its grace, glory, suffering, angst, uncertainty, joy and radiance, because whatever way you show up, I love you anyway. Every ounce of you.
May we always remember that there is joy to be found within each and every moment.
May we remember that we always, always have a choice.
May we learn to love every single ounce of ourselves. Only then can we truly love another.
Cynthia Seva is a treasured member of the MKY community. In this blog, she shares her heart's truth about how she found herself at a low point and picked herself up with a daily spiritual practice.
When I started my practice in 2019, my goal was to find peace within and my ultimate goal was to become less reactive. This year I was challenged by emotional distress. My empathetic nature was truly withering my soul. The challenges in our world coupled with my heart mourning loss became unbearable and brought me to my knees on many occasions.
I am strong because I’ve been weak and this year I allowed myself to be vulnerable. But then, I could not find a way out. It’s ok not to be ok, but it’s not ok to stay in that place. This is where depression and mental instability can take over. I found myself there.
So, I reached out to my MKY family for support and decided to embark on a 40 day practice with Cate as my Kundalini Coach. Cate and I co-created a beautiful, nurturing meditative routine for me to do every day for 40 days in a row - every moment, every sound, every breath had a purpose. My 40 day Sadhana....
Day 1 my heart was heavy and my emotions heightened. Day 8 came around and I was able to function past moments of anxiety. Unexpectedly, I realized I no longer depended on coffee (true story). And I had a new love in my life, ME! Now I was open to life and new experiences.
By day 15, I was dancing around palm trees in Puerto Rico where I was vacationing. By day 20, I realized I was opening space for myself to fill and with that came a sense of expansion and growth.
I live by a lake in New Jersey, and I often did my practice outside by the water. On my 40th day of practice, I opened my eyes and there were swans floating by just in front of me. Coincidence? I think not.
The rest is history. Here I am after 40 days, loving myself like I’ve never loved me before. I'd become so accustomed to filling everyone else’s cup first that I'd forgotten to fill my own.
For the first time in my life, I am single for months and loving my own companionship and open to what comes along my path. To know my worth means nobody ever gets to decide it for me. You cannot come to know yourself as grand until you've known yourself as small. Thank you to everyone that has entered and exited. Blessings! Cynthia Seva