About 20 years ago, I went through a very difficult time. I wasn't sure what the future would hold for me, and I really doubted -- whatever was to come -- that I could handle it. I had been practicing Kundalini Yoga once a week and on my own at home, but I did not yet see it as my practice -- that which could sustain me and calm me through the storms of life. Then, one day in class, my teacher said something that resonated so deeply that I shifted into a totally different relationship with yoga.
We sat in easy pose, before tuning in, just slowing down the breath. My teacher said, "All you need to be happy, healthy, and whole is within you. Set yourself free."
They were the exact right words in the exact right moment. I can't explain why. It couldn't have been a new idea for me that we all have inner resources and that we can free ourselves from suffering, but it felt new. It penetrated right to my core, a word-arrow piercing through melancholy and resistance. After that class, something very important began to change for me.
I no longer saw Kundalini Yoga as just my way to experience momentary bliss and relief. It became instead a source of true support. I leaned on it, and it carried me through the darkness, allowing me to see glimpses of the light.
When I felt I was sinking, I repeated my teacher's words to myself -- All I need to be happy, healthy and whole is within me. I'd also fallen in love with the traditional closing song for Kundalini Yoga classes, and I sang that to myself to get to the other side of emotionally overwhelming moments.
May the longtime sun shine upon you.
All love surround you.
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.
What I'd like to emphasize here is that anyone can lean on a practice. It doesn't matter when the last time you went to class was or what level practitioner you consider yourself. In moments of stress, you can take a deep breath; you can sing a spiritual song; you can remind yourself that all is within; you can repeat Sat Nam to yourself.
Twenty years ago, I didn't relate to any of the mantras; I didn't know who Yogi Bhajan was; and honestly, I didn't even know what the word Kundalini meant. It didn't matter. I leaned on a saying and a song to carry on.
See, we are all innately yogis. I'll say it again: WE ARE ALL YOGIS.
What makes us yogis is not how many hours we spend on a mat, but our desire for ease and our longing for connection to deep meaning and our capacity to answer those calls. What helps each of us feel our yogi-ness is different. Maybe it's a song, a mantra, a vigorous physical practice, a prayer, a dance, a meditation, a gesture, a crystal, a quote, a goddess, etc.
For me, it began with the words of the longtime sun song and the message that all is within. These words still resonate for me and nurture my soul. And now, I have much more to draw on -- many mantras, many teachings, and deep meditative experiences. They all act as keys to unlock my inner wisdom, my inner guidance, my inner guru, my inner strength, my true nature.
How can you discover your keys? A friend once told me a story about looking for a particular herb in a field where things grew wild. She looked and looked but could not see it. Then, she saw one leaf of this special plant and suddenly realized the herb was bountiful all around her. Her eyes just needed to be open to it.
May your eyes be open. May you discover your unique keys. May you lean on your practice when you need it. May the Truth in you guide you.