By Navraj Kaur
Every morning, I juggled coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. Dodging traffic in my black Chanel suit. In and out of cabs to get to the meeting before my colleagues. Bumping into other corporate groupies along the way.
There is something to be said about the subtle power of a woman wearing a black suit. Entering the conference room. Her high heels clacking. Heads turn. The room goes silent.
The black suit became my armor. I was a business warrior. Black protected. Just like the oversized Chanel sunglasses that go on as soon as I leave the meeting. Protecting me from the inquiring minds looking for the truth in my eyes.
I was a walking talking machine: thinking, planning, strategizing, beating out the next guy for a seat at the boss's side, without caring, without heart. And I would have continued that way except something happened. Something that changed not only the course of my career but also my life.
A special delivery package sent by destiny herself. My mother showed up on my doorstep. Suitcases in hand. Diagnosis dementia.
Uncontrollably, events tumbled one on top of the other as I became Alice head-first down the rabbit hole. My world turned upside down. No more job. No more friends. No more travel. No more life. Just mom and me. What I had avoided most of my life came to haunt me and take me down. The woman who manipulated me with her emotionality was now just a shadow of her old self. The only thing she needed was exactly what I couldn't give. Compassion. Caring. Help.
The tunnel was long and very dark for a very long time. Like a butterfly waits in its cocoon, I waited and watched as if from outside myself. I had shut down. What was happening on the inside was a meltdown at the cellular atomic level. There was no going back. I became hateful and mean and unforgiving. To her and myself.
Slowly I had to give up on the rationality and knowledge warehouse in my left brain.
There was no way to figure out our relationship and my life from a totally new perspective. It was painful. Very painful. Five years long. And then it all ended. I was left behind. Alone. Hurting. I had hit bottom. Zero. Null. Nada. That was 2011.
In the months following mom's death I was a zombie. Still, a friend insisted that I go with her to a seminar for entrepreneurs. Surprisingly and in spite of my lousy mood, I didn't insult anyone out loud. And even more surprisingly, during this seminar the millionaire's wife taught us about how certain breathing patterns can open a space to begin the process of healing. Of course, I didn't get why she was telling us this. This was a weekend about creating money. Little did I know that unless you heal yourself, you cannot manifest diddly-squat. She made us sit in stillness and observe.
I squirmed and cursed in silence. What a waste of time, I thought.
But somehow, without my conscious awareness, these exercises opened a door.
A new kind of knowledge floated in. Even more, it was a knowing, a wisdom.
Apparently, this stuff comes in through the movement of the breath and the stillness of the mind. I was impressed. I learned that she was a teacher in a special tradition of yoga. Later I found out that behind it is a warrior lifestyle of a different kind. She said Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan was the most effective yoga on the planet. That was enough for me.
I embraced this new knowledge and threw myself into the experience of it on a daily basis. Man, this stuff works fast, I thought. Although I had been diagnosed with depression caused by exhaustion, I began to regain strength. The crying stopped. The immense sadness that filled my heart began to make room for something else. A new purpose for my life emerged. My mind didn't plague me in every waking hour with guilt and shame over what had happened between mom and me. I was changing. The anger replaced by a trust in something bigger than me. The desire to control everything left. I knew I would become a Kundalini Yoga teacher and represent this yoga to the world.
And so today I am once again a leader, once again a warrior. This time proudly wearing the white that is a symbol of Kundalini Yoga. Now, how I dress is once again a symbol. But this time, a symbol of my willingness to serve. A symbol of my readiness to lead...this time, with the heart.
Navraj Kaur is passionate about the infinite potential to make the world a better place using the powerful tools of Kundalini Yoga and meditation. Currently she is challenging leaders to live above and beyond what they believe they are capable of. With a long career of business behind her, she took what she learned about leadership and combined it with Kundalini Yoga and meditation to offer a holistic perspective on leading through personal transformation. Originally from Hudson County New Jersey, she tells people she is a New York City girl. She has been living in the eastern part of Switzerland since 1984. www.appliedkundaliniyoga.com