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Facing the Fires of Trauma

By Bhavanjot Kaur

“Never pray ‘God give me peace, tranquility, all that is wonderful.' Pray, ‘Give me the worst and make me win.’ That is the Sikh prayer.”
-Yogi Bhajan 6/19/94

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I picked up some time ago in my travels. It reads "BE THE HERO OF YOUR OWN STORY." It is one of those expressions that gives me a dose of strength each time I read it. I also have another magnet that sits next to it that reads, “NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP.”

“Let us be master of our strength, not slave or prisoner of our weakness.”
-Yogi Bhajan 1/7/90

I have recently started working out at a local gym and I am lifting weights. I have this need to feel physically stronger. I was in a class recently and the personal trainer said, “Our job is to find any weakness in our body and make it strong.” It instantly made me think that we also do yoga to build strength, and also to find what is inflexible and to help it bend and stretch.

A dead body is stiff and rigid, but a fully alive body is flowing and elastic. There is great strength in flexibility. We meditate and the weakness of our mind is replaced with non-judgmental awareness, and through this practice we are strengthened in all facets of our being—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A balance of strength, flexibility and awareness seems like the groundwork for facing trauma, recovering from trauma, and elevating beyond trauma.

“Your karma is to be born, is to elevate yourself. You have to understand yourself. I understand people need counseling, people need help, people need all that sort of thing. But people also need themselves.”
-Yogi Bhajan 1/20/91

I am living with a diagnosis of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). I have a humble and spiritual trauma therapist who has been a great support to me as I have continued to grow and heal in my journey. I recall one of our early EMDR sessions together. My therapist said, “When you are going to put out a fire, you aim the hose at the bottom of the fire, not at the top.” This was how I began to understand trauma and the intricacies of CPTSD.

The fires that I face today started very early in my childhood and have continued to grow and spread throughout a lifetime of trauma that went unacknowledged and unhealed. My therapist was willing to take my hand and walk into the darkness of my soul with me so that I would not have to put out the fires alone. I realized that I could keep trying to bypass the trauma and continue my desperate attempts to find a way around it, or I could face it all and face myself within it all and find my way through it.

“Once you know that you have a trauma and you have not faced it you can’t be complete.”
-Yogi Bhajan 3/7/89

I have a friend who recently became a fire-fighter. I admire his efforts in training and his desire to serve the community in this way. I am in awe of any person who is brave enough to run into a burning building when most would run in the other direction. This type of act takes a lot of courage and, to me, truly is the work of a hero.

I am admittedly the person who would want to run in the other direction of an actual fire, but my healing journey has called me to go in and face the fires of my trauma. I have had to sit in the sting and rawness of the burns these fires have left upon my soul. My work is far from over, but as a friend of mine says, “No mud—no lotus.”

The following is a passage that I heard in an early morning Aquarian Sadhana when I first began my practice of Kundalini Yoga:

“Asked Charpat, the Yogi:

‘This life is like a turbulent sea, and it is said to be most difficult to cross. How can it be safely crossed?’

Sayeth Nanak:

‘How can one answer the question of one who already has the answer? What discussion is required when you have known that yonder shore?

Observe the lotus as it drifts over the surface of the lake,

Its roots imbedded in the mud below,

And the swan floating carefree on the stream:

The waters never reach beneath the surface of his feathers.

One crosses over the terrible ocean of life with his mind fixed on the Guru’s Word,

And by repeating the Name of the Lord.

He who lives in the world without desire, perfectly detached,

Keeping the One Lord in the mind,

Seeing the unseen and knowing the inconceivable,

And making others to see;

Nanak is a slave to such a one.’”

-Siddha Goshti (Conversation with the Siddhas), Peace Lagoon

When I heard this passage, I knew with my whole being that I was a Sikh, or as it was once described to me, seeker of the truth. In my heart, I know that I am not my trauma and I am not a diagnosis. I am a seeker of truth and the true identity within that ultimate truth is that which I seek. I choose to identify with my higher-self even in my weakest moments because I always know in my heart and soul that even when I seemingly falter, I am still finding my way to the truth more each day.

My soul is Sikh, perhaps just like you, and I came here to win and that is what I aim to do. I will reach my hand out for help when I need it and I will offer my hand out to those who are in need because this is what family does—and we are a big family. We lift ourselves up and by doing this work, we lift each other up and out of the mud and into the light.

Let us put out the fires of trauma and ignite the fire of our heart with three minutes of Breath of Fire, working up to 31 minutes/day.

Let us be grateful for the gifts within our challenges. Let us chant our prayers out from the heart together, Ik Ardas Wahe Guru.

And let us find our way back to our true selves within the ultimate truth, and find our way back to each other once again.

“I’ll poke you, provoke you, confront you, and then I shall elevate you. Resurrection is the law of life. You all have to do it. We all have to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.”
-Yogi Bhajan 10/11/89

Bhavanjot Kaur is the owner and founder of Hamsa Healing Arts in Old Saybrook, CT. Bhavanjot is a Kundalini yoga teacher, Reiki Master & Teacher, Craniosacral therapy practitioner and she also offers sound therapy with a 32" gong. Bhavanjot hosts a local women's circle and various workshops on therapeutic grade essential oils, medicinal mushrooms and The Art of Reiki Levels I and II. She is a proud single mother to a beautiful and delightful four-year-old little girl who overcame a rare childhood kidney cancer.