By Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500
“Life is like a nest which must be built straw by straw. Its composition should be according to requirements, its coziness should be to the standard of delicacy of softness, its place and height should be to the standard of safety, and it must be protected by the will of Infinity.”
In preparation of this piece, I asked our teenage son, “What do you think makes us unique as a yogic family?”
He replied, “We’re conscious people, I guess, we’re more aware of how the world works, more involved with the child’s life. Healthy lifestyle, strong values, more progressive. We care about other people, we serve others.”
My husband and I considered our choice to have children carefully. We were married for seven years as we weighed our choices and perceptions of what kind of world into which we would be bringing the next generation.
We already had a vision of what could be; we were working and serving children, running the children’s program at our local Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) and organizing all kinds of activities with the children of the sangat.
Yogi Bhajan recommended chanting this shabad 11 times a day as expectant parents to raise the vibration of our environment and strengthen our bond with our child in advance of their birth:
We were firm about the decision to pray to conceive a child who would serve, who would be a giver on the Earth. It was no small thing. We approached my pregnancy consciously, daily, taking all the conscious pregnancy teachings to heart.
We walked together, holding hands, chanting (Naam Japna or Charan Japa) and chatting. These and other practices helped us as parents to never underestimate the blessing of bringing forth and encouraging the expansion of the Divine nature in our children.
Once when our son was 7 years old, we were discussing the recent passing of one of our family friends. Our son declared, “Live, die, live, die! The soul lives forever, so nothing to worry about!” While his sentiments were a bit glib, we felt that he ‘got the concept’ of the soul’s journey through lifetimes, and that was gratifying.
Since his birth, we’ve worked to instill in him a sense of service and Cherdi Kala—the perennially blossoming, unwilting spirit—a perpetual state of gratitude.
We’ve embraced regular opportunities for seva as he’s grown, including serving the homeless, cleaning up local parks and maintaining a sincere generosity towards the needy—never hesitating to come to the aid of the unfortunate for fear of ingratitude.
Even though we are a “nuclear family” with the thousands of mundane choices you have to make every day, called the ‘Activities of Daily Living,’ being a part of the world-wide sangat sustains the values of our lifestyle.
Thankfully, there is no learning curve with our spiritual family. Because of our 3HO lifestyle, things like vegetarian diet, keeping our hair and early morning sadhana can create confusion or a bit of conflict in our families of origin or with old friends.
Our son has countless aunties and uncles and we all have spiritual siblings. As Yogiji said, we rotate our lives around attending the 3HO Solstice gatherings, which, in fact, does maintain those relationships. It is like coming home.
A recently published Harvard longitudinal study on happiness (Harvard Grant Study, Atlantic article) finds that good relationships keep us happier and healthier—the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships with family, with friends and with community.
While aware that ‘leaning into’ good, close relationships is good for our health and well-being, ‘life in the nest’ can be a pressure cooker and does require consistent effort to thrive. Living a spiritual path ultimately provides the tools and teachings to support us as we create coziness and companionship to transform and transcend life’s challenges as they arise.
It’s all about relationship! Our relationship with our spirit is our priority as a family. And the rewards are the companionship, hilarious moments, snuggling(!), and the constant change and inner growth—and then, by extension, our relationships with extended family members, friends, and those we serve.
“God lives in cozy homes. Happiness, which a cozy home can give you, is so divine on this Earth, you don't need anything more than that.”
-Yogi Bhajan, 12/18/73
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.