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The Power of Giving as Foster Parents

By Saranjot Kaur/Shannon Maganiezin

Yogi Bhajan encouraged people to give. He said, “Give because God gives to you. Love because that is your purpose in life. Shine because it is important. Share because it is demanded of you.”

He also said, “A Master takes little and gives a lot.” Based on that comment, I have decided that good Mothers must truly be Masters.

In the past twelve months I transitioned from being just me, a 33-year old woman with no children, to being a mother of an infant and a toddler, then back to having no children, then forward again to being a part-time mother of an infant.

My husband and I are foster parents and receive children in deplorable conditions. They are removed from unsafe situations, often in the middle of the night, shocked, scared, sometimes soiled and dirty, and then are thrust into the arms of complete strangers.

Day after day, for their immediate future, they go to sleep in a bed they don’t know, in a room they’ve never seen, in a house they've never been to, with much bigger people they have never met. Their little world is so far from the peaceful, safe and elevated community that we as conscious adults are accustomed to, so it can be hard to really empathize with what they have been through.

In the couple of foster cases we have taken and amongst the handful of children with whom we volunteer, we have seen an incredibly consistent response to Kundalini tools and teachings used with them.

In general we tend to keep yoga music or Indian Ragas playing throughout the house, but beyond that, there are three Kundalini Yoga teachings that had a noticeable effect on the health, radiance and overall happiness of these beautiful, albeit traumatized, children. And these tools don’t just work for foster children; they are useful for any child!

Honoring the First 40 Days of Life

Within our community it is taught that after giving birth to a child, the first 40 days of life are sacred. This is based on the idea that it takes 40 days to make or break a habit. During this time the immediate family keeps to themselves as they adjust to the new life that has entered their home. This time is used to create and maintain a comfortable, loving environment and to protect the baby.

We took in one little girl whose foster case was horrendous. It was deemed the worst case of neglect in DCF (Department of Children and Families) history. It made news in Europe.

There were many things wrong. She didn’t walk at 14 months and barely crawled. She didn’t speak or respond to her name. Due to a lifetime of neglect her brain cells had begun to atrophy and she was retreating within, rocking for self-stimulation and occasionally passing out and falling over. She was lost and had retreated inside of herself for survival.

For 40 days we kept to ourselves and spent a lot of time together at home. We loved her, nurtured her, took her to necessary doctor’s appointments and did all of the other things listed in this blog. At the end of 40 days, we did a side-by-side comparison from her intake photo and the difference was remarkable.

It was outstanding to see two different versions of this girl. For confidentiality reasons the picture cannot be shared, but where her eyes were drooping, her hair was flat and her skin was yellow in the first picture, in the second her eyes are open, relaxed and happy, her hair has beautiful, bouncy curls and her cheeks are rose-colored.

Meditation for Stress and Sudden Shock

Imagine being woken up by a sudden noise or loud voices and then forcefully removed from your home. For a child, this is sometimes the most stressful and shocking thing they have ever experienced. So this meditation was a perfect tool to use with them.

In a sudden shock or stressful situation the two hemispheres of the brain amp up their individual responses―they do not work together. One side works hard to handle positive emotions, while the other side handles the negative emotions. The right hemisphere deals with the unusual and threatening changes in the environment and the left hemisphere analyzes and systematizes the reaction. This stresses out the nervous system, decreases the strength of the immune system, and can lead to many problems.

The meditation uses a chant, a breath pattern, and a hand mudra. It sets the brain into a rhythmic pattern that reinstates and maintains equilibrium in the brain even under the pressure of stress or sudden shock. For a copy of this meditation click here.

Every foster child we have ever looked after into the late hours, has either fought sleep by screaming and crying for long periods of time or awoken screaming and crying in the middle of the night. The most consistent way I found to calm and soothe each child was using this mantra, although since I’m holding baby I can’t do the hand mudra.

This is my method: I place the baby over my left shoulder, so we are heart-to-heart. I rock him or her while patting his or her back in rhythm with the mantra. I inhale, long, deep and audible so the baby can hear my breath and on the exhale I chant “Saat Nam Saat Nam Saat Nam Saat Nam Saat Nam Saat Nam Waaaaaaahe Guru” and repeat.

The combination of breath, movement and sacred mantra seems to be enough to soothe and calm the brain waves of any scared or stressed baby. In the most difficult cases, when there wasn’t physical pain due to digestive issues, the child soothed and slept within 20 minutes. I believe that chanting while holding your baby resonates into their auric field. It calms their brain waves, as it calms ours.

4:00 am Wake-up – Time for Sadhana

Too-early in the morning wake-ups are a phenomenon expressed by all babies, not just babies in foster care. But often even toddlers and older children in foster care will find themselves sleepless, scared and lonely in the ambrosial hours. After a few nights of irritated wrestling to fall back asleep, I decided that both baby and I could benefit from Sadhana, the daily discipline of spiritual practice that seems to take care of everything for the rest of the day.

When the wailing began anytime from 2:30am – 4:00am, I made this a bell of mindfulness. Waking to prepare a bottle, I would light candles, turn on soft music and settle onto a comfy yoga mat. While rocking and feeding our baby, I chanted Japji, which takes about 20 minutes at my speed, then Long Ek Ong Kars for 11 minutes.

If our baby wasn’t back to sleep, we would merge into a Yogi Bhajan Sadhana practice. The results were more connectedness and attachment between the baby and I, as well as a day that felt more in flow. We would nap at the same time and all activities and plans felt in sync. The baby is also more calm for the rest of the day.

We have only scratched the surface of the foster system and the children in our care; and in our short experience we have witnessed remarkable change in children who are exposed to these teachings in their highest integrity. There are so many lifestyle teachings within the Kundalini Yoga tradition and these are only the top three that we used consistently.

Saranjot Kaur (Shannon Maganiezin) has lived a very spiritual life. Her training began with three years in a remote boarding school founded upon the major religions of the world, meditation practice, and 12-Step philosophy. She has practiced yoga since 2003 and in 2015 completed KRI Kundalini Yoga teacher training from senior teachers who served Yogi Bhajan. It is her life’s path to connect others with the light of wisdom. Shannon is a spiritual counselor and Kundalini Yoga teacher and those clients who work with her come away from that communication feeling expanded, elevated and inspired. Connect with Saranjot Kaur: SaranjotYoga@gmail.com (954) 632-0747 www.SaranjotKaur.com