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TO CHANGE THE FORM Of THINGS START WITH THE MIND

By Donna Amrita Davidge

"The mind is given as a tool to you. Mind is not master. Mind was given to you to serve you. You develop all other facilities of the world- electric instruments, cars, air conditioners- but the biggest computer you have is your mind. You never developed it"

So said Yogi Bhajan, who was the leader of the Kundalini Yoga movement in the US, in Feb 1978.

In the 35 years he was in the United States (he passed away October 6, 2004) he proved the power of what one mind could do and taught this idea of self-reliance and growth through Kundalini Yoga sets and meditations. Not only did he do that, he started the American Sikh movement and 27 successful businesses, one being the Yogi Tea Company that many of you may be familiar with. He practiced what he preached and wanted his students to be, as he said, ten time greater he, to be full of greatness.

In Kundalini Yoga practice the job of the teacher, according to Yogi Bhajan, is to provide the tools for the student to feel elevated, by allowing their perception to become stronger.
These tools are both physical and mental, such as specific sets like transforming the Lower Triangle to the Upper Triangle, a challenging series of yoga movements, sound and breath, that opens the energy from the base of the spine, hips and navel (lower triangle) to through the heart to the Upper Triangle, which is the throat, third eye and crown.

Other forms of yoga can be transforming physically as well as mentally also. There are numerous stories of people healed from physical ailments and injuries through various forms of yoga. Iyengar is particularly known for its focus on alignment while Kundalini is known for adjusting imbalances in our energy and the chakras, a subtler but also important thing!! Ashtanga is a very physical practice that in the long run with patience and practice can help our body realign and become strong and supple. Because the practice is so physical the mind once again plays an important part, as does the breath. The breath can be extremely helpful for anxiety disorders and specific breathing techniques can be practiced for this and other mind-related transformation.

"The job of the mind is to think. The mind controls the entire human presence and the way one progresses to get out of the cycle of fortune and misfortune. You must have control of your mind. Our basic problem is we do not know how to concentrate. You have to have some time to be all to yourself, where there is nobody else, you have to work with yourself." Yogi Bhajan said in Dec 2001.

Yoga is a way to teach us to concentrate the mind, to transform our thoughts, patterns and habits. In Ashtanga Yoga, for example, if we are to reap the benefits of proper alignment adjustment, it is especially important to concentrate on each move, how you move and move specifically with the breath (as we also do in Kundalini Yoga but often with repetitive movements). This is a great beginning point for transforming yourself through Yoga practice, taking the time to breathe in a relaxed manner, never mind the pace of the practice.

In order to transform our lives through yoga (and some people say it does this simply by making them more mindful) it is helpful to use the tool of meditation as well to alter our old ways of thinking and being. Often we are forced to transform our lives through loss, pain or fear. Whatever the pain, be it physical or mental, Yoga can help us reach deep within to draw the lesson and learning. There is another set in Kundalini Yoga called Meditation to release Anger, Sadness and Fear. Much of the work in this set is for the Navel, where we often hold our anger and fear. It also works on the Heart, which is supported by the Navel. Processing grief in the Heart can transform the energy into acceptance and willingness to love and be loved. Forty days is the suggested an ideal time of length to practice Kundalini Yoga.

Sometimes we make all sorts of changes in an effort to transform our lives- change our diet, our job, our spouse, our weight, our hair color, the type of yoga we do! - Only to find some of our deep-rooted unsettling issues still present. The subconscious is a powerful thing that holds it in samskaras, issues from our Karma and past lives. Here is a powerful kriya (completed action) to help you break through and combat the negative effects of the subconscious mind, to transform on a very deep level. Try it at first a few times, don't give up, and build up the pace to 3, 5, 11 minutes or more.

SUDARSHAN CHAKRA KRIYA :

Sit with a straight spine. Look at the tip of the nose or eyes closed, as you prefer.Block the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. Hold the breath. Mentally chant Wahe Guru 16 times, pumping the navel point (below the belly button) 3 times with each repetition, once on Wa, once on Hey and once on GURU (total of 48 pumps). If this is too challenging, pump once per Wahe Guru for a total of 16 pumps. Unblock the right nostril. Use the right index or pinkie finger to block off the left nostril and exhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril. Continue this way.

This literally clears your internal garbage, purifying and giving you pranic (life force energy of the breath) power. Start gradually and even if you can work up to 31 or even 62 minutes a day it is good.

A simpler task to transform how you walk in the world is simply to do 3-sun salutation a day. A woman who came to my retreat this past summer told a great story I have recounted often about a man who came to Yoga class very stiff. The teacher told him to do 3 sun salutations a day. Five years later he returned to class and his body was totally supple and strong. The teacher asked what he had done and he replied he had done what she said, so never underestimate your ability to transform and the power words have to do that (Yogi Bhajan often spoke to us about the power of the word). If you have not the time in the day for sun salutations or meditation then become mindful of the words in your mind and that come out of your mouth. For example instead of " I just don't have enough time" substitute " I have time enough to do all that is important to me today".

"Do not let the mind dwell in thoughts of what is good and bad. Just relax and forget that you are meditating. Do not desire to become a Buddha. If you do you will never become one." Anonymous.

Finally Yoga can transform many areas of our lives, even our relationships and so I would like to close with an e-mail a student sent me after my first class teaching her this fall in NY. Never underestimate the power of timing! Patience pays, another Yogi Bhajanism, and use those forward bends to remind us of this!

Hey Donna:
Good to see you. Last Sunday a funny incident took place in our class. There was a woman in that class that I recognized but couldn't figure out from where and this was driving me crazy! She called me yesterday, as she is a client I worked with years ago and for whatever reason she stopped speaking with me and taking my phone calls (she and I had dinner several dinners together, too). She recognized me but she couldn't place me either and then she heard you say my name- so she rang to say it was she! I asked her why she stopped speaking to me as I left her a message years ago stating that "if there is something I did or said to offend you then I am sorry, please call me to discuss" but I never heard from her. She said she has had issues staying connected but that yoga brought us together - how random huh?

So keep looking for those unusual experiences, big or small, as they make us remember the wonder of life and each other.
 


Amrita (Donna) has been teaching Kundalini Yoga in NY city since 1985 and in a retreat setting in northern Maine since 1997. She has produced video and audiocassettes and continues her practice with studying various forms of yoga besides Kundalini. She is certified by 3HO and Yoga Alliance. Amrita also teaches workshops on the East coast and has taught in Costa Rica and various spas. For more information: www.sewallhouse.com


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