Beyond Addiction: the Yogic Path to Recovery

Beyond Addiction: The Yogic Path to Recovery – Guidelines for Stopping Smoking Addiction is displaced longing – we all have a longing to be “at home” with ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, and to be loved. Often because of early childhood stress or abuse, lack of safety, or unmet developmental needs, we look for that longing in other places. Those other places can take the shape of a daily Starbucks coffee, a cigarette, a glass of wine every night before dinner, a closet full of shoes, marijuana a few times a week, checking Facebook every hour, a string of unfulfilling relationships, or the need to be constantly pushing for success. There are so many ways it expresses itself. We can do this for decades before realizing that what we are really looking for is unattainable from external sources. It all comes back to acknowledging the pain, hurt, discomfort or … Continued

Honing Your Meditation Skills

We know from Patanjali the 8 limbs of yoga – yama, niyama, pranayam, asana, pratyahar, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. All are essential as we mature as yoga practitioners and meditators. Yogi Bhajan often calls Kundalini Yoga the “yoga of awareness”. What does he mean by “awareness”. Awareness is applied attention and focussed concentration (dharana) during meditation or yoga practice, and in daily living. This could mean attention on the breath, attention on the tip of the tongue while chanting, attention at the third eye point, attention to some part of the body in a posture, attention to a devotional feeling, attention to mantra – both repeating it or listening to it, attention to whatever arises as we practice, attention to the moment. What awareness is not, is thinking. It is helpful to me to observe myself while meditating or practicing yoga and to catch the activity of the mind, recognizing when … Continued

Using Meditation to Become Free of Your Complexes

We Identify with Our Complexes Rather than Our Spirit Though our reactive patterns served a particular function while we were growing up, our problem is that we identify with them as who we are and we allow them to rule us. We become stuck experiencing the world through the same pair of childhood glasses, not realizing that our vision is clouded by these experiences. We limit ourselves with an identity, no matter how functional it may be, of “I am a mother; or wife, or teacher, or human, or middle aged, or black, or doctor, or French, or Japanese etc.” When we say in a twelve step meeting, “My name is Jane and I am an alcoholic”, we are identifying with the complex of the alcoholic. A more truthful way of articulating this might be, “My name is Jane and I am a spiritual being who in the past used … Continued

Meditations to Practice on the Full Moon

On the full moon, the sun’s radiance is strongest – reflected both from the earth and from the moon to the earth. We receive this light. If light = consciousness, then it is when we have access to greatest consciousness. We can begin a 40 day meditation on the new moon, and continue building its effectiveness daily to perhaps have most profound experiences on the full moon. From the new moon to the full moon there is a building up of energy. From the full moon to the new moon there is a winding down of energy. Many processes in nature are linked to the cycling of the moon. Biodynamic gardeners plant most flower, fruit and vegetable seeds two days before the new moon, finding that both light and gravitational conditions following the new moon assist in root and foliage growth. Thus it is good to begin a 40 day … Continued

Yoga can Decrease the Stress Response in Pregnant Women

Pregnant women can encourage life long health in their children by being relaxed during pregnancy. When women are stressed, their cortisol levels increase, which can have detrimental effects on the fetus, priming them to a lifelong exaggerated response to stress, and perhaps a susceptibility to addictive behaviour patterns to diffuse the stress response. Yoga and meditation are effective tools in pregnancy to decrease the stress response, protecting mother and child. A 2009 study published in the Int J Gynaecol Obstet Mar;104(3) explored the effect of yoga on stress and heart rate variability in pregnant women. One hundred and twenty-two healthy women between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy in Bangalore, India, were randomized to practicing yoga and deep relaxation or standard prenatal exercises 1-hour daily. The results revealed that perceived stress decreased by 31.57% in the yoga group and increased by 6.60% in the control group. During a guided … Continued

The Yogi’s Prayer

The Yogi’s Prayer Relinquish desire and attachment Enjoy “what is” right now. Accept pain and pleasure Equally in peace. Release selfishness and pride Cultivate humility, and a generous heart. Surrender doubt Trusting the architecture of undivided wholeness. Let the words of enlightened beings guide thoughts and actions. Do not be drawn by the senses into craving or aversion, Sleep just enough, Eat lightly, Apply the principle of moderation. Let truth, contentment and self-discipline be your companions. Neither dwell in fear, nor animosity Be meticulously conscious While living in the world, Keep the connection to God intact. Dedicate each thought, word and deed to the Infinite. Override the ego. Love the Beloved all hours of night and day, Even among family activity, work and play. Maintain your yogic postures with deep internal silence Purity exists beyond thought. Lovingly attune to the sound current of Infinity Vibrate the unstruck melody. Listen with … Continued

Pranayams in Kundalini Yoga: Suspending the Exhale

Yogi Bhajan rarely cautioned against doing any of the exercises, for any population group. In fact, he taught many yoga sets and meditations specifically for anxiety and depression. When you suspend the exhale in a pranayam, it sometimes brings up fear (for anyone) linked to fear of death, that may cause panic. This is something that is good to practice in a gradual way (ie holding it a few seconds longer over time while practicing it every day) to allow fear to come up in a safe environment and be released, through calm neutral observation, acceptance and concentrated moment-by-moment absorption on the breath itself. In this way, fears that might come up in life may be diminished. In general if any technique causes a person to feel uncomfortable in an unmanageable way, it should be stopped. However, discomfort while beginning a technique is acceptable, and indeed often behind that discomfort … Continued

Kundalini Yoga Meditation Practice: 40 Days of Long Chant

This is a journal from an experience doing 40 days of Long Chant, for 2.5 hours each day.   Day 12: This morning I chanted for 2 1/2 hours with a woman who is also a saxophone player. We had an incredible time. Matching tones perfectly, even before we heard each other, projecting from the navel, using lots of breath. At one point during the chant I burst out laughing because there was a tortoise looking at me, turning his head to see me better, just in front of my face, some kind of inter-species communication. Time passed very quickly. I zoned into the sound and became totally (almost) present with each syllable, as though surfing a wave, synchronizing with the other voice and person behind it. Engaging fully moment by moment. Feeling the tones in my body, enjoying each new sound. I had the experience that the sounds already exist; … Continued

Create Oneself Anew

To heal from any chronic illness, addiction or cancer, one must take stock of one’s limiting beliefs, false statements about oneself, unhealthy behaviour patterns, emotional responses to people, places and events, and lovingly release all that is in the way of total transformation. We become what we think, what we say to ourselves, what others project onto us and we accept, what we visualize and what we feel in our bodies. When we shift the way we think to honour our potential and all that we can become, when we visualize ourselves healthy and thriving, when we release the emotional blockages in our bodies and allow energy to flow freely, we create ourselves anew, and the seemingly impossible becomes possible. The vast power of the universe dwells within us. Recognize it and invite its awakening..

Let the Kriya Carry You

Insight from a Toronto Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Student: In my practice of Kundalini Yoga I often cannot complete a particular posture within a specific Kriya. I also view K-yoga as an advanced yoga and my practice level is at a beginner level. So in order for me to participate it is important to do my best (level of effort, active is crucial) so that I am actively in the process and all my systems are engaged. Once that is taking place at a physical level I ask what is the intent of this posture process etc. I imagine that I am being held in that posture by “spiritual helpers (a force greater than me)”. I open to whatever the effects are within the design of the kriya. I have found that each posture or process takes me from one state to the next. No matter how “difficult” or “easy” … Continued