Spiritual Practice: A Time for Selfish Love
By Dev Suroop Kaur
For many of us, as we move deeper into February and closer to Valentine’s Day, our thoughts turn to the concept of love. Traditionally and popularly, we in the United States consider Valentine’s Day a celebration of romantic love where we express love for one another by presenting flowers, offering sweets, and sharing greeting cards. It is a celebration of love of and affection for the others in our lives.
However, sometimes the experience and intentions around romantic love can be pretty messed up and upsetting. Expectations between people can be misaligned. We may present our offerings of love out of obligation rather than a true expression of love. Despite our best intentions, commotion can sometimes prevail.
So, we turn our attention to ‘selfless love’ as the highest state of individual consciousness. In this state, when we feel and experience selflessness within ourselves and then in relation to others, we become filled with love. That sounds great and I think it’s safe to say that we all want that. However, I would like to back this up a bit and talk about love in relation to the self and the soul—selfish love—as expressed and realized in our personal meditative discipline.
We all know that a big part of our practice as Kundalini Yogis is nurturing and maintaining a consistent daily spiritual practice. We learn this, we teach this, we talk about this, and we long for this. Commonly, a daily practice takes the form of a meditation or kriya for a set amount of time and for a certain number of days. Clearly, the best practice is 2 ½ hours of sadhana in the amrit vela. Through all the teachings of Yogi Bhajan it seems that every message comes back to sadhana as the core of peace, happiness and success.
In all my years as a Kundalini Yogi, I have had and have witnessed various experiences with sadhana and discipline. Personally, there are times when I have been absolutely compelled to crank out a consistent morning sadhana. You could not make me not do it. I have also experienced dry spells where it's challenging for me to eke out much of anything.
During these struggling times, while I do keep something going, I know I need more of a practice. But it just isn’t happening. During one of these dry spells in the past year, I asked one of my colleagues why sadhana could be so challenging. She stated “because you are learning to give to yourself.” Wow! This made me stop and think. I recall Yogi Bhajan often talking about sadhana as the most selfish act. ‘Selfish’ is defined as being devoted to or caring only for oneself. Another definition is being concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, and welfare, regardless of others. So, sadhana is for the self. Not for anyone else.
I decided to float this question out to Kundalini Yogis on Facebook. I stated that I know many people have very consistent practices, that many others struggle, and that we don’t seem to talk about this too much. I asked people to share their experience with spiritual discipline and sadhana. So much beautiful sharing came forward. What is clear to me from this experiment is that the experience of sadhana is very personal.
Some say that simply the act of conscious breathing is enough. Many acknowledge that they feel better when they do a daily practice and long for it and simply do their best. Others say that once they decided that sadhana was non-negotiable, they never went back. They do a consistent morning sadhana every day. Still others say they may not do it in the amrit vela, but that they maintain something every day. Some say they struggle, some say they don’t, other say that they accept what is and roll with it.
My conclusion is that sadhana and daily spiritual discipline is about self-love. It has everything to do with loving yourself and giving to yourself—about loving yourself deeply and selfishly. This connection between daily discipline and self-love is my current meditation. I can give to others. I do it all the time. I am nurturing being better at giving to myself in all ways, and one of those ways is sadhana.
I leave you with this quote from Yogi Bhajan:
“The most difficult thing in human life is the test of one's own discipline. If you are not your own disciple and your own discipline is not stronger than you, you have hardly any chance to be happy. All pain in this world comes to those who have no self-superior discipline. And it is not somebody's discipline being imposed on you. That is not the discipline. Discipline is your own discipline for your self, and your conscious discipline."
–Yogi Bhajan, April 5, 1994
Dev Suroop Kaur delights in sharing the pure practicality of nurturing a successful and deeply authentic life. An accomplished musician, recording artist, and Lead Trainer in the KRI Aquarian Trainer Academy, she strives to break it down, keep it real, and guide students to their own empowered authenticity.
Blessed to study directly with Yogi Bhajan for most of her adult life, she gratefully shares what she has learned - and continues to learn – about how to love, work, and live better in the world. She deeply enjoys training students and teachers of Kundalini Yoga in the science of Naad Yoga, women’s teachings, and how to access the beauty and power of their personal voice. She currently lives with her husband in Espanola, New Mexico and, in addition to her teaching and music activities, works to maintain a peaceful mind as a business executive.