These musings consist of design, art and Kundalini Yoga. Ok, mostly Kundalini Yoga.
Yogi Bhajan had some beautiful quotes to share with all of us. This one seemed so beautiful the other day I had to make an image for my desktop at 1600×900. Oh my soul, give me the light. Show me the path. Give me the excellence and beauty to be bountiful, blissful, kind and compassionate, and true to myself. Image courtesy of hummel12 Right click the link below and choose “Save link as” or whatever the closest equivalent is.
The full moon, that beautiful and mesmerizing radiant light, enchants us each month with stories of werewolves and crazy drivers. For several years now I’ve watched how I suddenly begin to get thirstier and thirstier as we close in on a certain time of the month. I always attributed it to my menstrual cycle, but over the last several months it’s become apparent that this additional demand for water in my body has something to do with the full moon. I drink and drink and drink and still I remain thirsty, it’s like slowly crossing the Sahara and no matter how many mirages you drink from, the thirst remains. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic. CURRENT MOON moon phases Some conversations I shared after the full moon last month (April), I began to realize that I’m not the only one affected by this water balance issue. My father had suffered from dehydration and a student in one of my classes also mentioned it to me. Could it be that we all feel crazy during the full moon because we don’t have enough water? Dehydration causes serious issues in our glandular system, blood pressure, kidneys and our brain function. (Not to mention those crazy driver mood swings.) Here’s an article that discusses effects of mild dehydration on mood, specifically for women. It’s interesting that this affects women so strongly, but then again we are known to be affected by the lunar cycles in many ways. It’s so great the we’ve been blessed with this natural connection to the Earth and the Universe. Yogi Bhajan commented also on how susceptible women are to mood swings when the water balance is off. In the Meditation For Emotional Balance (always tune in before practicing), he talks about the need to balance our emotions with water and breath: This meditation is called Sunia(n) Antar. It is very good for women. It is essential at times when one is worried or upset and doesn’t know what to do, or when one feels like screaming, yelling, and misbehaving. When out of focus or emotional, attention should be given to the body’s water balance and breath rate. Humans are approximately 70 percent water, and behavior depends upon the relation of water and earth, air and ether. Breath, representing air and ether, is the rhythm of life. Normally we breathe 15 times a minute, but when we are able to rhythmically slow down the breath to only 4 breaths per minute, we have indirect control over our minds. This control eliminates obnoxious behavior, promoting a calm mind regardless of the state of affairs. When there is a water imbalance in the system, and the kidneys are under pressure, it can cause worry and upset. Drinking water, pulling the shoulders up to the ears and tightly locking the entire upper area creates a solid brake that can be applied to the four sides of the brain. After 2 or 3 minutes, thoughts will still be there, but one does not feel them. This is a very effective method of balancing the functional brain. The full moon is also a time when our bodies are very strong, it’s a great time to start new projects and let go of the old. While I’ve been noticing changes in my hydration, I also noticed some changes in my appetite. I have a bad habit of occasionally skipping a meal and so it didn’t occur to me until recently that during the full moon and new moon, my body was trying to fast on its own. Since my body seemed to be doing it anyway I tried to see what would happen if I fasted. It was much easier than I expected on those days. I’ve never fasted before, intentionally, so I didn’t really know what I was doing, but keeping a juice fast of lemon juice and water seemed to be ok. I felt strong through the day and had a lot of energy the next day as well. At the full moon you are naturally accelerated, and you are naturally brought down during a new moon. Your biofeedback moves from full moon to new moon, and the new moon to full moon. That’s natural. But if on the eleventh day of the moon, you just live on water and melon, your health will be perfect. If you want to take care of your mind, eat nothing on these three days of the moon: a new moon, a full moon, and the eleventh day of the moon. At the new moon you are at the lowest. On the full moon your glandular system is at the highest. On the eleventh day of the moon you are in balance, in twilight. So if on these three days in the month you can fast on lemon and water, it will help you put. If you feel very cold, then add ginger to it. Each morning these days I take two ounces of ginger, two ounces of lemon, with one spoonful of flaxseed oil. Source: “The Master’s Touch” by Yogi Bhajan (page 195) Yogi Bhajan talked about fasting on the full moon, new moon and eleventh day of the moon. He said it will keep the body strong and disease will not bother you. Of course you have to make sure that you nourish your body properly during the rest of the month and there are plenty of recipes Yogi Bhajan and Bibiji provided for that. You can find their cookbooks on Amazon and Spirit Voyage. And this is from an unknown source about the 11th day of the moon: 11′th day of the moon: “Kundalini”, Ekadashi day. Energy wise this is the strongest day of the moon cycle. Activization of Kundalini-the most primal energy in the human body. This is the energy that build up the human body (in the past) and continues to develop and perfect it toward the highest spiritual structures. The energy of this day is best for 24 or 36 hours fast. This day is good for “softening” procedures before the liver cleanse. Conceiving a child on this day brings about healthy long living people. And in case you are just interested in raising the Kundalini during the full moon, which is a powerful time to meditate, you might attempt the Antar Naad meditation, which has a version to practice specifically during the full moon (scroll to the second part of the meditation, the first part can be done anytime). In case you want to be more on the ball, there is a Google calendar for the moon phases (called “Phases of the Moon”) so you can always be aware of the next important moon phase coming up. Stay hydrated and get some great meditations in during these powerful moon times! Enjoy!
Your spiritual name is your designated destiny, your heavenly identity. That’s all it is. You may or may not live to it, but it is your guiding force. And it’s a prayer… It’s a prayer in the other man’s word. What is prayer? It is a calling. And you answer the calling. You get uplifted. It’s a plus. It’s a way of receiving people’s blessings. — Yogi Bhajan Those of you who have spiritual names and those who are looking to find them will all have your own experiences, but I thought I’d share the story behind my spiritual name: Sohan Kaur. I wasn’t about to wait until teacher training to get my name, I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone. (Although I did cry, a lot, but that’s another story.) I requested my name after much debate about how much I might actually hate it and not want it. Not to mention spiritual names were kind of a new age-y hippie thing to show off your spirituality right? When I received my name, I cried. It sounded nice, Sohan. I briefly studied hatha yoga a few years earlier, before starting Kundalini yoga. I meditated using the mantra “Soham.” I was a little surprised by the similarity and it made me feel more comfortable with the name. The meaning was totally different and I didn’t really care for it at first: “princess of God who is beautiful in the eyes of God and in her soul.” (Kaur = princess of God) I’d never really considered myself pretty so I could see why they picked that. I never even really identified with my body as a child, looking in the mirror I knew I was in there, but the body wasn’t familiar to me. Growing up my younger brother was so gorgeous people thought he was a girl and told him how pretty he was. Not sure he liked that, but it sure didn’t build self-esteem for a teenage girl. Some of the comments I received about my appearance were to ask if I had eaten chocolate because my face was breaking out, again. Luckily I didn’t like chocolate. Blessings. So I certainly understood that I needed to see my own external beauty regardless what others thought, but then again, since we are all part of God, that meant others must see me as beautiful on some level (“…in the eyes of God…”). I never was big on caring about other people’s opinion, but somewhere deep inside I did care. It was just easier to deny it. I’ve been a perfectionist and now the imperfections in my skin are starting to bother me with age. Although others now see and comment on the beauty on the outside, I have a hard time accepting it. It seems to me to be much less about the physical beauty at this point, I’ve always had the same body, sometimes a little heavier, not much. Yet the change in peoples’ reaction to it has changed drastically in just a year or two (especially since receiving my name, imagine that). The beauty of the soul must be shining through from somewhere. I wish there was a mirror to see that. The physical is a little easier to handle now and at least accept gracefully even if I don’t always believe the compliments. But sharing what’s inside still takes a lot of courage. It wasn’t just the exterior that felt rejected for a long time, but the interior as well. Bringing that out into the light of day sometimes takes extra effort. A small turn of events can send it all hurtling backwards, but there’s something else coming out with it, acceptance. Perhaps the imperfection is perfect just so we can help ourselves to help others. There’s beauty in the unusual and unique and as an artist I can relish that. Sometimes more in other people than myself. It was just earlier this year when someone spoke about spiritual names and said that each time someone says your spiritual name, it’s like receiving a small blessing. That’s when I began to appreciate the name on a different level. It wasn’t just some new age thing to sound spiritual or to replace your old name because it was no good or bogged down with past associations. It was there to receive blessings and remember the truth of your Soul. It was just earlier today as I walked through the park, and thoughts were running through my mind, that I began to identify with the meaning of my name more completely. “Beautiful in the eyes of God and in her Soul” became “I am beautiful in the eyes of God and in MY Soul.” It may not sound like a big change, but it was more about the realization that I could own that beauty and really identify with the Soul, not just mindlessly repeat the translation when someone asked me what the name meant. In case you are interested in a spiritual name, 3ho.org provides them. (http://www.3ho.org/spiritual-names/request-spiritual-name)
It’s a rare day when a Kundalini Yoga class doesn’t include spinal flex, so why all the emphasis on working with the spine? The spinal column houses the spinal cord, the main pathway for controlling and connecting to our limbs, muscles and other organs. The spinal cord is housed in a space filled with spinal fluid. In order to maintain our health the spinal fluid removes waste products from the nervous system and brings nutrients to it via the movement of the spine. So, spinal flexes help to pump the spinal fluid along the spinal column to help facilitate nourishing and detoxing the nervous system. This pumping also helps to keep the disks between the vertebrae nourished and cushy to keep the spine steady and flexible. The spine is also connected to many muscles throughout the core and the back as well as the hips. Since the spine is mainly for structuring the body and protecting the nervous system, most of our back problems are related to the back muscles. There is of course the possibility of a pinched nerve, but much back pain is the result of bad posture and other muscle quirks resulting from injuries and even emotional trauma. Spinal flexes can help to loosen up some of the tight muscles along the spine. Since many of us spend time sitting in chairs at the office our thighs and psoas muscles (muscles that connect from the spine to through the pelvis and into the thigh bone) become shortened and over worked while our abdomens and lower backs weaken from lack of use. No wonder we can begin to slump as we age! The same goes for our chest and neck becoming too tight while the hamstrings and front of the neck are weakened. When one part of our body goes out of balance it often takes other areas with it, adding to small problems overtime and creating larger problems down the line. Some of the best things for strengthening the abdominal muscles to release back pain are leg lifts, sit-ups and stretch pose. These can be very painful to someone who has almost no abdominal strength to begin with, so it’s important to focus on correct posture for these. There is a very important component to doing these postures correctly to avoid further agitating the back pain and abdominal weakness. For leg lifts and stretch pose it’s important to keep the lower back pressed straight against the ground using only the abdominal muscles. Do what now? That means unclenching your bum and releasing the thighs and focusing on the abdomen. This can be difficult at first, but try, try again and remember to rest in between! When you are doing leg lifts and stretch pose and the lower back to lifts from the ground the psoas muscles are lifting your legs, causing them to strengthen more without working the abdominals, so it’s better to limit yourself to the time for these postures to how long you can keep the lower back on the floor and just visualize the rest. Setting your intention is important and you can build strength slowly and surely. Another helpful alternate is to place your fists or hands underneath your hips to help tilt the pelvis so the lower back stays on the floor. This can help you get through some of the tougher postures for a little bit longer while keeping the lower back on the floor. To better understand the functioning of the body in yoga postures, you can read Guru Prem’s Divine Alignment, where he discusses the different tilts of the pelvis to help you understand them in relation to your own body. Sadhana Guidelines contains kriyas for working the spine and strengthening the abdomen and is a great resource.
I enjoy this Yogi Bhajan quote when I need a quick pick me up. Life is a gift of God and it is meant to be happy! -Yogi Bhajan Here is a colorful desktop wall paper for your computer at 1600 x 900px. Enjoy! Right click the link below and choose “Save link as” or whatever the closest equivalent is.
So I’m really good a baking cookies and when I do I end up creating these fantastically strange concoctions to save my feeble attempts. This time snicker doodles turned into a baked coconut crumble dessert, but it was good! So I figured I’d share the recipe because a few people asked for it. You can easily substitute the dairy ingredients to make this vegan. Serves a lot of people! 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) or coconut oil 1/2 cup of kefir or whole milk or yogurt (or soy or whatever you have!) 1 1/2 cups of sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp garbanzo flour (or coconut flour to make it easier) 2 tbsp water 1 can coconut milk (15oz) 3 1/2 cups coconut flour 1 tsp baking soda agave nectar shredded coconut cinnamon Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue until fluffy. Heat oven to 375F. Mix together the 2 tbsp of garbanzo flour and 2 tbsp of water to make a paste. Beat it into the butter mixture and then add the milk and coconut milk. Mix in the four and baking soda using a wooden spoon and stir to blend. Grease a few oven proof dishes ( I used a 3qt and a 2qt baking dish to fit all this in the oven). Spread the mixture about 3/4″ -1″ thick layer, enough to cover the bottom and make it look nice. Drizzle with agave nectar. Sprinkle with cinnamon and shredded coconut. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes until golden. Enjoy! Photo credit for the coconut goes to bizior.
Dealing with depression is fun right? Yeah… With the planetary shifts and holidays that are coming up a lot of people are going through depression and other similar issues. Yogi Bhajan predicted a cold depression that many people would feel at this time in the shift to the Aquarian Age. We are so overloaded with information that our brains can’t figure out which of it is worth using and which isn’t. Enough said about the need to meditate. I was at a kirtan concert recently listening to Brenda McMorrow and John de Kadt who are both fantastic musicians. There were a whole lots of other wonderful musicians present as well, but something John de Kadt said during one of his songs really stuck with me. He said that in the old tribal days when someone went to the village shaman with an emotional problem such as depression, they were asked 4 questions. When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you lose connection with nature? It may sound a little silly in our day and age but when do you feel better than singing and dancing out in nature? How about those little kids listening to stories about great heroes and princesses? What a profound way to analyze your being! Music affects brain chemistry on a profound level and sacred chants even more so through the Shabad Guru. Movement also stimulates endorphins and helps to keep blocks from building in the body, or breaks blocks already there. How about some interpretive dance to a story like song? When we lose touch with nature we become disconnected from the cycles of the planet and struggle to feel grounded. Since our bodies are so profoundly affected by the magnetic field of the Earth, it can have a powerful effect on us when we become disconnected. And not all powerful effects are good. So step one might be something like, go dance in the woods and sing stories to the trees to heal your heart and soul. Wish it were that easy, Yogi Bhajan talks about how a month without walking barefoot on the ground takes 6 months to correct. You should walk 11 minutes a day in the grass if you can to connect. I’m sure hugging trees helps too. For those in the wintry parts of the world it might be more practical than freezing your toes in the snow. But I think you are blessed in any case with the change of the seasons, which brings you much closer to nature whether you want to or not. In Florida it’s a bit more difficult since the season is pretty much warm summer and cold summer, but we do have the beautiful beaches to uplift us. But I digress. Doing research on how to get rid of depression I came across some interesting information in the kriyas and meditations that Yogi Bhajan gave to bless all of us. Remember to tune in using the Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo before starting any of these meditations or kriyas! The first meditation I came across is the “Immune System Booster: The Inner Sun.” It has this little interesting bit of information that I haven’t seen elsewhere (emphasis is mine in the quote). The immune system interacts with the central nervous system, the glands, and emotions. We are each given the strength to encounter life and life’s challenges. We have moral strength, mental strength, emotional strength, and physical strength. All these strengths are inter-connected. We block the flow of that strength when we experience feelings of anger, self-defeat, and blame. To boost the immune system, we must overcome these blocks. The right hemisphere of the brain stores many of the diffuse negative emotions that lead us to depression and to a lower functioning immune system. This meditation stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and the right hemisphere to adjust themselves. In this process you may go through various emotions as the glands start to shift their balance. That is fine. Relax and keep going until you are through the emotional inertia. Then you will feel light, energized, and hopeful. Now if we go from what this meditation says about working on the sun side, we could extrapolate that perhaps other sets that work on the sun energy might also work against depression. One kriya to try is “Surya Kriya,” it’s one of the classic kundalini kriyas and states that: “When you have a lot of “sun energy” you do not get cold, you are energetic, expressive, extroverted and enthusiastic.” That sure sound a lot like the opposite of being depressed. Part of what can also drag you down is the fact that you may not feel like you know who you are and that has a lot to do with the navel point, third chakra energy as well as the solar plexus, which are closely related. One kriya that specifically states it helps to alleviate mild depression is the “Nabhi Kriya for Prana-Apana“. This one is a sweet little meditation that not only works on balancing the incoming and outgoing energies, but also on the navel and heart centers. It’s a beautiful forty day practice, very sweet, although not always easy. Another super powerul kriya is the “Awakening the Diaphragm” kriya in the Self-Experience manual (page 3). Try the 3 days of 11 minutes each and see what happens! I haven’t tried this one very much, although it’s really something that we could all use a little more practice on. Alternate nostril breathing is great for balance on the emotional level as well as to balance the brain. Then we have the classic Kirtan Kriya, which has multiple benefits and is very powerful in bringing you to balance. Will these cure your depression? I have no idea, I’m still experimenting myself. It can’t hurt to try though. One thing that seems to be behind depression is a feeling of loneliness and the constant search for happiness on the outside. When looking into the yogic information it seems that once you can get your love behind yourself then you don’t have to search for it elsewhere and you can instead share your love with others. This is influenced quite a bit by the solar plexus and also the heart center, so heal the heart and connect with your True Self! Go do some yoga in any case, it will help to be around other people and smile a little! Love to you all and lots of healing blessings.
As we go through our daily life we sometimes run into negativity. This can come from people around you, but if you investigate your own thoughts, sometimes they come from your mind. It’s easy to get in a rut when your mind heads in a negative direction. Meditation is a great way to move us into the neutral mind and bring win-win solutions to our situations. Doing a daily sadhana (practice) is important to help you move forward in life and to adjust to life by acting rather than reacting. Occasionally we may have a personal practice that just doesn’t seem to be enough. That’s when group sadhana brings added energy to your practice as you share the vibration in a room or in the case of the Spirit Voyage global sadhanas, with the world. The new sadhana starting on August 8th, 2012 is a wonderful way to remove negativity and anger from yourself and to bring love into your life with a positive affirmation. Sometimes when we surround ourselves with negativity we find it hard to accept the love we deserve in its place, but we are all deserving of love, so go out there an meditate! Sharing the energy in this group helps you to increase the effect of your meditation and thus bring about larger shifts within as the global group supports your efforts. It’s wonderful to feel the support of everyone around the globe even if we can’t always meet and practice together. Click here for the Transforming Negativity to Love global sadhana. Here is Ramdesh’s post discussing the sadhana.
There is a new study showing that meditation reduces stress. Specifically this study from UCLA used the Kundalini Yoga Kirtan Kriya meditation, which is wonderful for balancing the mind. This meditation is very powerful, so make sure you tune in with the Adi Mantra, Ong Namo Gurudev Namo. Enjoy!
Life changes frequently, this year it seems to have headed down a hill without breaks. Not that it’s all going downhill, it just seemed to be picking up speed at the beginning of the year without any intention of slowing down. Sometimes we have to go through that sort of thing. It’s all for learning of course. In the midst of all the changes something lovely began to bloom and then that suddenly disappeared. The wonderful thing about the God is that when He closes one door He opens another and sometimes you get a glimpse of understanding about the lessons you are to learn. When you are ready to jump into something feet first, but have very little information on what is going to happen after that. You may feel a little tingle of fear or anxiety about the future. “It will all work out.” That’s the classic tagline friends and family provide. Once in a while that sort of thing is just right. When you prepare to jump feet first two, three, four times in one year you start to wonder what it is that you’re doing. Sometimes slowing down is exactly what you need to do. Recovering from a major life change takes its toll on the body and mind and takes some time to repair. You may feel ready for a radical change and sometimes that’s a good thing, but when you are searching for fulfillment on the outside sometimes you forget to pay attention to the inside. Life is for living and that’s important to remember as changes come about, but giving yourself a break and remembering that there is no rush, just work diligently from day to day and clarity will come to you. It helps to have a daily practice also, those moments of meditation clear out the unnecessary thoughts and help you focus on what’s important. So now that time is shifting and the year is moving into the second half it’s time to get up to speed on new things. There are still changes coming, but these are planned more carefully and should make for a more stable ground. You can read some new writings on Spirit Voyage’s blog. There are also some new projects to be added to the portfolio and artwork to be added to the gallery. You’ll slowly see things added here as time permits. Patience please. The site redesign is still in the works, there may be some changes yet, but slowly and surely we will move forward.
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