By Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500
“The most courageous and pious act of a human is to be with another human, because we are like stars in the sky, born at one time and space, to be ourselves. Everybody is our neighbor. All we have to do is say, “I am with you.” When you start being one with everybody, then you are actually with God, because if you cannot see God in all, you cannot see God at all.”
-Yogi Bhajan, Success and the Spirit
This spring we had a wonderful post-White Tantric Yoga® party celebrating my 30 years on the path of living as a Kundalini Yogini. Spirit Rising Yoga Center was joyfully bursting at the seams with friends, students, and peers, including live 3HO music and vegan lemon cake!
I have enjoyed the blessing of a worldwide community, experiencing the curative force of Sadh Sangat. Sadh means one who has a Sadhana/spiritual discipline, and Sangat means those gathered together for a purpose; thus "the company of people who have a Sadhana."
Next week my husband and I will graduate our 17th annual class of Level 1 teacher trainees. It’s been so inspiring and humbling to see a community expand and weave itself together over the years. The shared values and the opportunities to eat together, chant together, and do Sadhana together have created a family of choice, “siblings of destiny”—and in some cases, a family of necessity.
When life’s losses and changes push us to an edge of discomfort, we seek out ways to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, we see so many people in these times self-medicating with risky behaviors, drugs, alcohol, etc. Those who are blessed to connect with a spiritual path can discover a conscious community who can provide a refuge, a safe harbor where, “By Guru's grace, one obtains true understanding and crosses the terrible world-ocean.” -Guru Nanak, Siddha Goshth
As for me, I sought out yoga when life felt ‘gray.’ I had the blessing to have found a great mentor and teacher in Ram Rattan Kaur (Sonja Gilkey). She ‘chiseled’ me and pretty much saved my life. I was inspired to attend Chicago’s White Tantric course in 1986, and she introduced me to Yogi Bhajan, where he gave me my spiritual name.
When I began attending Kundalini Yoga classes, not only did I discover the benefits of yoga and meditation, but also the healing effect of befriending fellow travelers on the path—people of like mind and the willingness to brave transformation. Through yoga classes, White Tantric Yoga® courses and Ladies’ Camps, I met many wonderful new siblings on the path who helped me feel welcome in a place of belonging instead of longing. I had found my tribe.
I am always reminded that Yogiji taught us that group consciousness takes away loneliness and that our siblings of destiny—both Kundalini Yogis and those who follow other paths faithfully—inspire me to the goodness of myself, because all around me is their goodness and through God’s Grace they also are uplifted by the goodness they recognize in me. It has the mystical power to heal on all levels.
Even for a child, the healing power of Sangat is evident. One year, on the eve of our departure for Winter Solstice, our son came down with a bout of stomach flu. He insisted that we push through the flight anyway, and we made a family decision to go. The moment we passed through the gate at Circle F Dude Ranch, he felt instantly better. He was a blur, running off with his friends!
Recent research has demonstrated the importance of maintaining strong social connections throughout our life, especially as we age. Friendships offer vital health benefits, on both psychological and physical levels. Friends are a treasure, and we live longer and happier with their presence and support.
My husband and I recently visited a beloved friend/Kundalini Yoga teacher in her last weeks with terminal cancer. We massaged her feet, practiced a simple meditation with her, and all shared some Yogi Tea and funny stories. We felt so honored to spend this time with her. Her husband said it meant a lot to her.
She was unable to attend her 5th Level 2 training so we gave her an honorary certificate of completion at her final birthday celebration. It was well received by all. When I shared this moving story with Harbhajan Kaur at KRI, she graciously told me to include Guru Saran Kaur’s name on the final roster of our course so she would always be recognized as completing all her Level 2’s. Now that is our community! I tear up as I write this.
Yogiji encouraged us to serve the community without hesitation. It could be at the beginning of life (an expectant mother’s 120th day, or her post-partum 40 days), or attending a life transition, and all of those opportunities in between. Whether it is an emotional need, a physical ache experienced, or a spiritual loneliness crying out, the remedy is community.
When I work to set my ego aside, I’m truly practicing the yoga of relationship. This asks for a release of attachment to the outcome, and I feel connected to the Infinite, hearing myself vibrate ‘Wahe Guru’ with the deepest attitude of gratitude.
[The photo above is the author's son, Amar Dev Singh and his beloved auntie Japa Kaur]
Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500, KRI Level 1 Lead Teacher Trainer, organizes and leads the Annual Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat. She is co-founder and director of Spirit Rising Yoga Center and Spirit Rising Foundation. She has taught Kundalini Yoga as well as practiced psychotherapy for nearly 30 years, integrating the yogic teachings into treatment for adults and couples. She is honored to have served Yogi Bhajan directly and has transcribed, edited, and illustrated several books including his Women’s Camp lectures, Master’s Touch andFlow of Eternal Power. The health and empowerment of women through the teachings of Kundalini Yoga is a cause that is near and dear to her heart and she also specializes in Humanology, marriage, conscious birth, self-care, and health and wellness. www.spiritrisingyoga.org, [email protected]