Miles to go…

Just this week, Anchorage is finally covered in a cozy blanket of winter snow. It always strikes me how much the snow seems to calm and quiet the winter world, making it seem a little softer, a little gentler. The dark winter skies seem to press upon me to sleep, but I am also alert, knowing that a new year and new beginnings will be fast upon us. I am reminded of a few lines from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Today I might be at rest or deep meditation in the dark and lovely woods. But I have promises to keep to myself and to the world, commitments to my Self, my community, my destiny. And those commitments will require me to exert and expand as I learn and integrate new information into my life. I think about how in Kundalini Yoga, the kriyas and meditations work on us through alternating push and pull, contraction and expansion, rest and exertion. And in life, we allow moments of rest to recharge the energy needed to be successful and victorious in all of our new beginnings.

New beginnings are exciting and fill me with hopeful expectations. They can also be scary and exhausting, especially when they involve consciously choosing my own path through life, following my own heart, my own truth, trusting that it will work out for the best even when there is no hard evidence that it will, even when people who love me worry that I am taking too great a risk. But then (thank you!) Robert Frost returns to remind me that the path less traveled holds far greater rewards in The Road Not Taken:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

In keeping with this theme, Kundalini Yoga North is offering a special 11-day rejuvenation intensive in Homer from December 29 – January 8 that will balance the nervous and glandular systems. For yogis in other parts of the state, regular Kundalini classes are available in Anchorage, the Mat-Su, Homer, Fairbanks and Juneau. For on-the-spot or home practice, here is a short video meditation led by Yogis Sukhdev Jackson and Akahdahmah (AYKANNA) for cultivating absolutely powerful energy to meet life’s challenges (tuning in for the 3-minute meditation starts about 7 minutes into the video, following the introduction; the meditation itself starts about 10 minutes into the video).

Changing Seasons, Changing World

As I write this on a sunny April day in Anchorage, it feels like summer has come early, and winter only flirted with us this year. I hear it has been the same all over the state and that people are very aware that our world is changing.

At work, I have been involved in a project about climate change. It is a very complex, challenging and juicy project that has us asking ourselves: how is Alaska going to navigate through these very apparent changes in the natural world? Who are we when our world, natural, social, cultural – is changing so much and so fast around us?

I did not imagine that I would ever really have to ask this question – not on the mat, not at yoga camp or at a party with my meditation buddies, but as a professional among government representatives, military, scientists and business people. Suddenly my worlds are crashing and melding into each other. I realize how much my own life is changing, though I have been too busy keeping up with all the busywork that seems to go along with it to notice very much.

So then I ask myself: how will I navigate through these times?

And I come back to the dharma that I have learned from the communities of meditators with whom I have practiced, from my own yoga and meditation experiences and from the awareness that has blossomed in me along the way.

I used to game the system, figure out how things work and then learn how to say and do the right things to feel like a winner. But the spiritual journey upended my world so that at some point, there was no system left to game. No right or wrong words, or actions, or people to please. I had to decide for myself and commit to myself, take the responsibility for whatever comes of my choices with no judgement good or bad – because there was nothing else to do.

Last week, I heard an echo of this in a talk given by General Ralston (retired) of the U.S. Air Force about the U.S. military and the politics of the Middle East. He talked about political decisions that have been made in recent years and had international consequences, and he remarked that it does nothing to argue about whether these were good decisions or bad decisions. We have the situation we are now in, and we must respond to it as it is. We can only move forward from here and work with the reality we have to work with. He also spoke of being an optimist, that although things might be difficult in the short term, that he believes we can get through it.

And this is the only way I can now imagine living in a world where the changes we are living through are becoming so vast, so fast and so complex that our minds and our intellectual sciences cannot keep up with them.

Sat nam and wahe guru.

Meditation for Intuition with Gurmukh

Returning to Autumn

Hope you enjoyed a wonderful summer! Now that fall is upon us, we have new updates on kundalini classes and happenings around Alaska.

A few weeks ago, I was on the East Coast, soaking up a few last days of balmy summer weather. I was so grateful and appreciative of the warm sunny days, telling everyone I wasn’t ready for the cold and the dark I knew I would come back to. Two days after returning to Anchorage, we had our first freeze and snowfall. It didn’t last long, but I was surprised to find that it didn’t bother me. I didn’t think I was ready, but when it happened, I found myself admiring how pretty the snow was, and feeling a little bit of that happy excitement I used to feel as a kid when the snow gave us an unplanned holiday from school. Reflecting on this moment of humility, I wonder, what else in my life do I mistakenly believe I’m not ready for?

I’ve heard it said that our questions bring forth answers, so I’m practicing and sharing these two meditations to help smooth the way for whatever comes next:

If you choose to do these on your own, as with any kundalini practice, please remember to tune in with the Adi mantra before doing the meditation, respect your body’s limitations (simply visualizing yourself doing the posture is beneficial), and close the practice with a mantra at the end.

Sat nam,

Narayanjot Kaur

…but wait! There’s more.

There’s always more, isn’t there? Beautiful thing about life, on or off the mat.

It’s midwinter and I’ve been hearing about new classes and workshops happening around the state, from classes with Tonia in Girdwood, to workshops in Sat Nam Rasayan with Hargopal in Homer and KY for breaking habits or addictions with Haridass in Juneau. Check out the offerings from the Basecamp, and hope you are all having a great winter!

Cheers!

 

Here comes the fall…

Greetings,

In the Alaska kundalini community, we have new or updated classes with Anna/Shivcharan in Homer for beginners, prenatal and all levels. In Wasilla, Hari Atma Kaur Khalsa is offering a special four-week series of kundalini yoga and meditation to help break unwanted habits. And from the internet yogis, here are some tips on making the most of your meditation practice and a lovely meditation to reclaim your inner remote control.

In Anchorage, the first week of September is already starting to feel like fall. The air in the mornings is crispy and evenings are getting dark again. The summer flower baskets have been put away, and by the end of the month the leaves will be on fire with the reds and yellows of autumn and the termination dust will come back to the mountains.

This time of year, the pace of life seems to speed up. The cool air almost pinches me into action, and with everyone coming together again for school, work, and fall party season, sometimes I am tempted to feel overwhelmed. However, this year I am noticing that meditating has helped me develop much greater patience through the ebbs and flows of activity, strength to gently manage the flow of events when I can influence them, and trust that it will all work out when I cannot.

Wishing everyone a fun and safe September.

 

yumminess of summer

Wow, this summer has been a welcome bath of light! Even on the few cloud-covered days, I’ve been looking around and seeing so much that I missed during the haze of the dark season. And what a world of color – eyes hungrily drinking it all in. At times it is also a time of breathtaking spiritual illumination, as expanded conscious awareness shows so much more of what is.

Even if “what is” includes things I’d rather not see or have to deal with. Sigh. Except after practicing this exercise of looking at what I’ve been hiding from myself for a few years now, I’ve come to actually enjoy discovering the depth and complexity of life beyond my blind spots. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s deeply satisfying when I am able to keep an open heart through it all. Sweet and juicy, like Alaska tomatoes.

I know many fellow Alaska yogis have been spending the summer out and about and not so much on the mats together, but we’ve got some classes going on and starting up around the state, so please check the offerings in Fairbanks (yay – Devta’s back with a gong!), Juneau, Anchorage, Homer and Sitka.

And for your own meditation experimentation, I invite you to join me in practicing the Meditation for a Calm Heart, which I’ve found helpful in coasting through stressful situations, maintaining patience in relationships and increasing breath control. Or maybe chant along with our many many yogi friends around the world who are doing the global sadhana Meditation to Heal Ancestral Wounds, which is a tremendously powerful meditation.

Meditation for a Calm Heart
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video with a short introductory talk

Meditation to Heal Ancestral Wounds
print and video
video with an emphasis on material security

sat nam. peace be with you,

Narayanjot Kaur