I was 10 or so and thrilled to be with my cousins for the day. With them, there was no self-consciousness, no hesitation. I could be myself, and I even had a bit of bravado as the oldest cousin. The day’s plan: Have a touristy time at the Statue of Liberty with my larger-than-life, super-fun uncle leading the way. I don’t remember if I cared about the ferry ride or Lady Liberty — probably not. I was with people who loved me and there was an exuberant safety in that.
I felt on top of the world, and it had nothing to do with climbing the 354 steps to the crown because I don’t even remember if we did. It had to do with my heart. An open and free heart is the top of the world.
At some point, we went for lunch at the crowded cafe. With no tables available, we found a ledge above the fray where we kids could perch while my uncle waited on line for our food. Just below us, stressed, exhausted adults with furrowed brows wove around each other with their brown plastic trays. We watched the scene below us, contentedly. Then, I got a “brilliant” idea.
A pinched-faced woman with a severe bun (or maybe she’s become that caricature in my memory over the years) walked by trying to balance an overflowing tray. I thought, “I’m going to make my people laugh. I can always make them laugh.”
“Watch this,” I said to my cousins. “I’m going to do something.” I reached out as if to steal a soda from the woman’s tray. My cousins’ eyes widened. It was a scandalous and thrilling action. I enjoyed showing off. But then…
…the woman stopped in her tracks and looked right at me: “What are you doing?” I don’t know what I’d expected her reaction to be or if I even thought that part through, but she was NOT amused.
Mortified. Momentarily mute. Blood rushed to my face. Please walk away. Please walk away. Please walk away. I silently prayed. But she held my deer-in-the-headlights gaze. Finally, I managed to stammer, “Just joking.”
“Joke with yourself!” she spat and huffed away.
Joke with yourself. My spirit plummeted. My heart closed a little. Joke with yourself. Don't try to be funny. Keep it all in.
That moment when my feeling of freedom diminished was just one of many "assaults" throughout my life to my identity, to my belief that I am loved and accepted, to my willingness to take risks and put myself out there. Those moments are commonplace in childhood. Aren't they?
This is why I need Kundalini Yoga. I need it to reclaim my liberty, my free, open, top-of-the-world inner self. I need to sit tall in my truth, roll my shoulders up, back, and down, lift my heart and feel supported in who I am. I need the repetition of Sat Nam Sat Nam Sat Nam. I need to connect to my breath. I need to meditate to restore my Self, return to myself.
This is why I think we all need a practice. No matter how charmed a childhood we had and adulthood we lead, we encounter people who reject what we project; we store little shocks to the system along the way which seem to be a sign that we are not good enough.
If your karma is a hard karma and your story includes truly harsh treatment, injustice, devastating loss or any of the many things that are more painful than a humorless woman making a nasty comment a practice is also a cure. Wherever we fall on the spectrum of harm a practice is a cure.
EVERY meditation speaks to the need to fortify our psyche and rebuild and reconnect to the aspect of the Self which is True. But there’s one Kundalini meditation in particular that speaks to it quite directly: Meditation to Experience & Project the Original Self.
The Original Self is your Sat Nam, True Identity. What is your True Identity? You know it, even if you don’t know you know it. It’s the deepest part of you, the aspect that knows your right from your wrong — even when you can’t find the words. It’s the essence of you that never picked up anyone else’s expectations or disappointments. It’s your untainted, quiet center. It’s your confident, fearless, open heart.
Practice this meditation for 40 days to become one with the original you, the you you came here to be. Reclaim your liberty. Here’s how:
Meditation to Experience & Project the Original Self
Commit to it. Commit to shedding all the cranky lady comments and reconnecting to your open, free heart. It is one of the most important endeavors of all.
AND … Don’t be disapproving with children. Smile and accept them as they are — even if it’s a bad joke in a stressful moment.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you. What meditation helps you feel that you are coming home to yourself?
Cate discovered Kundalini Yoga by accident over 20 years ago and was surprised and thrilled by how engaged, energized, and inspired it made her feel. She's been practicing ever since. In 2008, Cate completed her Level 1 (200 hr) teacher training with Hari Kaur Khalsa of Hari NYC. In 2012, she broadened her knowledge with a very special Holistic Hatha Yoga training (300 hr) with Amy Witmyer of Sacred Space. Kundalini Yoga is her home, her go-to sanctuary, her point of peace and insight. She believes that it is a wonderful tool for busy times and busy minds. Join Cate on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings for Kundalini Yoga & Meditation.
Co-owner and Instructor of Montclair Kundalini Yoga, Cate Baily (Arvind Dev Kaur) is ever grateful to share these teachings. Full bio here.