By Shabad Kaur & Shiva Singh Khalsa
“It doesn’t matter if you know everything. The question is: do you practice?”
Shabad Kaur’s Sadhana journal entry: 5:53 am, Day 28 of 40: “Chanting the Aquarian Mantras with community at the yoga center on this Spring morning. Through the windows, I notice the full moon moving through the sky as it nears moon-set. And then I become aware of the sky lightening up as the sun begins to rise. What a special time, to sit meditating between the sun and the moon!”
Some of my most treasured memories are of rising for Sadhana at Women’s Camp and Solstices and walking towards the Sadhana shelter under the open skies, with the Moon, the constellations and the Milky Way keeping me company.
Getting up for Sadhana is a personal victory, and always worth it. It’s opening a portal to stillness, to be alert between the time that the night is completed and the creatures of the morning rise up. We get up before the birds. It’s a pure, crystal time. Like yogis of ancient times, it’s a timeless connection with nature.
It’s a very rare moment in our lives to practice and experience stillness. Especially for those of us who live in urban environments—we’re bombarded by disorganized, chaotic noises of traffic, ads, constant stimulation—Rajasic and Tamasic energies (stimulating and imbalancing qualities in nature).
The Universe is composed of sound, made up of vibrations of different frequencies that create the world. The more time we spend surrounded by organized rhythmic sound like Japji, Mantra, pranayama, and the Shabad Guru, the more precious opportunities we have to experience the Anahat Shabad, the unstruck melody, and to be in dialogue with the divine.
We attract healing; balance the energy in our ten bodies; and on the simplest level, stress and confusion are replaced by relaxation and clarity, the Sattvic quality. We realign and create harmony in our mind, body and spirit. Consider that all our ten bodies vibrate at different frequencies and so the various components of Sadhana affect each in their own way.
Here are a few recommendations for integrating a Sadhana practice into your life and smoothing the way for your discipline:
Sadhana begins the night before! There’s a special sense of anticipation on the evening before sadhana, like preparing to meet the Divine Lover. Eat a light, early dinner, power your screens down and plan your evening so that the hustle and bustle of your day quiets down in plenty of time to sleep at an appropriate hour and to have a cozy, satisfying sleep. (Remember that it’s supposed to be an ‘even-ing’ of your energy after sunset!)
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
-Jean Shinoda Bolen
As you awaken, stretch the limbs and spine in bed before rising up. It really makes a difference to take a cold shower, dress in that prepared set of fresh clothes you laid out the night before and clean those “monkey glands” with a good brushing of the teeth and tongue.
You are ready to experience the magic of the Amrit Vela!
It’s recommended to stay ‘soft’ and introspective as you approach group Sadhana. If commuting with community members, share the stillness of the Amrit Vela (Nectar Time), embracing the opportunity to be free of conversations about news of the day or personal struggles.
Practicing sadhana in a group is very special. Each person in a group Sadhana adds their energy to the mix and the process of individual consciousness is transformed into group consciousness, and finally universal consciousness is created. Relevant Fun Fact: The word Uni-Verse means “One-Song.”
“If you must do sadhana by yourself, then while you are chanting, imagine a million others all around you. Hear them all chanting, with you in the middle not moving at all. Feel that you do not chant physically and yet are leading the chant and letting the chant lead you. As you imagine this, continue chanting.”
Something remarkable happens when you do Sadhana. Regardless of how we participate, unexpected delights occur throughout those days. People fantasize about having magical powers, to journey into subtle realms. In reality, these desires, to know the unknown and see the unseen, are accessible when you rise up between 3-6 am and deeply cleanse the subconscious mind. Often those qualities we strive for as yogis and givers rise from the subtle realms of consciousness at Sadhana to guide us and support our life’s mission and glimpse our highest destiny.
Impact builds, although we may find it challenging sometimes to explain to others why we set our alarms for 3 am and practice morning Sadhana in the Amrit Vela. (It has been said, ‘You might be a Kundalini Yogi if waking up at 4:30 am means you’ve overslept!’*)
“Why do we get up for morning sadhana? Because we have to face the whole day, and we cannot face the day without a constant level of energy. People love you for three things only: wisdom, commitment, and consistency.”
*From “You Might Be a Kundalini Yogi if…” by Sunderta Kaur, Minnesota, MN
Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500, KRI Level 1 Lead Teacher Trainer. She is co-founder and director of Spirit Rising Yoga Center and Spirit Rising Foundation in Chicago, IL. She has taught Kundalini Yoga for 30 years, and as a psychotherapist, integrates the 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 and Flow 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, health and wellness. Shabad Kaur leads the Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat in Wisconsin from October 4-7, 2018. [email protected]
Shiva Singh Khalsa, E-RYT 500, is the co-founder of Spirit Rising Yoga Center, President and CEO of Spirit Rising Foundation, and a KRI Mentoring Lead Teacher Trainer. Since 1972 he has taught and practiced with the guidance of Yogi Bhajan, who said of Shiva Singh, "You have always been an inspiration to me." Shiva Singh draws on a wealth of experience acquired through decades of spiritual practice, devotion and service. This is the foundation for his teaching and his life.
He is known as a Jupiter teacher—jovial, inspiring and uplifting. As a minister of Sikh Dharma International, he is recognized as a leader in the spiritual/inter-religious community, as well as an activist for the care of the aged and infirm, a member of Gift of Hope's Interfaith Council on Organ & Tissue Donation coordinating network, and I Grow Chicago, bringing Kundalini Yoga to under-served communities on Chicago's South Side. He has always emphasized the personal transformation possible through the practice of the 3HO lifestyle. [email protected]