the summer of my ancestors

Well, we all know we’re living in intense times. It has been said that 2016 is the year of purification, but it feels more like the decade of purification.

A couple of months ago, I began a 40-day practice of Kirtan Kriya, a Kundalini Yoga meditation designed to clear subconscious patterns buried deep within the psyche. About halfway through my 40 days, I went off Facebook and most social media. I rediscovered my love of fiction, reading books mostly about Indian women and their historical and current lives in India and in the west. I’m obsessed with learning more. It seems this has become the summer of discovering my ancestry.

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As the first generation of my family born in the west, and very much steeped in western culture (aka a ‘coconut’), I’ve vacillated between rejecting my heritage and embracing its more western-approved aspects (e.g., yoga). My Indian ancestors have felt very distant, even non-existent. I haven’t known much about my female ancestors in particular…maybe because I never asked. I viewed them as probably repressed and somewhat backwards. Silent, and living in a less evolved land.

Now I can’t stop thinking about them. Who were these women? What were their lives like? What dreams, desires, and talents did they harbour? What did they suppress in themselves, in order to stay alive? Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam…I think about conquests and conversions. How did they feel about God? About caste and karma? Were feelings even acknowledged in a world of immovable roles and responsibilities? What brought them joy?

I can feel that I hold memories of being restrained, constrained, burned. I see where I’ve felt like a burden, not wanting to ask for too much or take up more than my ‘fair share’ of space…somehow apologizing for my existence. I can feel the bitter resentment of unlived desires. I can also feel the patriarchy and misogyny embedded in my own psyche. In this female, brown-skinned body, I see where I’ve idolized the white male.

I’ve written on this blog about the Divine Feminine rising. Truly embracing Her means owning how deeply we’ve denigrated Her. I’ve uncovered a new layer of this within myself. All I can do is sit with it.

‘Purification’ used to mean cleansing myself of everything I thought made me inferior. But I now view it as the inner and outer distillation of all that is not resonant with highest truth: love. And that means witnessing and experiencing all that is not love within ourselves, and in the world around us.

This entire process requires trusting my intuition and feelings. I do question if I’m making it all up. I doubt my role, if any, in the healing of my lineage. I wonder if ‘purification’ and ‘divine feminine’ are just more new age concepts that distract. I catch myself in spiritual shadow (superiority/inferiority) all the time. I don’t know what a woman’s life is like in present-day India; I don’t want to speak on anyone else’s behalf.

During my 40 days of Kirtan Kriya, I experienced some very dark and hopeless states. But I see now that the meditation did exactly what it was designed to do – bring to the surface what longed to be healed. Though it hasn’t been comfortable, it feels like what I’m here to do, and that brings me peace. I am very grateful for my opportunities to choose and to heal.

If we are in times of purification, then darkness and chaos will continually rise to the surface until every last corner is exposed. I don’t know what will become of humanity, but I know that right now, I must listen to the long lineage of voices rising from within. I’m trusting my feminine instincts on that.

understand through compassion

Image courtesy of Vaughn Lewis (with my modifications)

Image courtesy of Vaughn Lewis (with my modifications)

I was very happy when Elysha asked me if I’d be interested in answering some questions on Kundalini Yoga for her blog at at Mind Body Soul Stylist. Upon completing my yoga teacher training program back in May, I entered a major blogging slump…so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss my love for these sacred yogic teachings!

It’s been said that 2016 is the year of purification, and I am really feeling this. I’ve found it difficult to write about all that’s happening within (and without) – so much intensity! I have many things I’d like to share, but until the words flow again, here’s our interview. Thank you, Elysha!

http://elyshalenkin.com/styling-from-the-inside-secrets-from-a-kundalini-yoga-teacher/.

And Happy Canada Day, too. ❤ I’m grateful that this beautiful country accepted my parents, and many other Muslims, as refugees back in the 70s. Time will tell how humans choose to live out the drama unfolding on the world stage. I’m constantly reminding myself of the fourth sutra of the Aquarian Age: Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.

Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

from karma to dharma

Through completing the final session of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program last weekend, it’s become clear that my views on karma have significantly changed these last few months. Karma used to have very negative connotations (mostly surrounding punishment), and my chronic thoughts about it hung over me like a heavy cloud.

In my very first training session last October, I was hesitant to wrap my hair in a white cloth. I knew many Kundalini Yogis wore turbans, and in all my years of practice, I never saw myself doing that. But after a few days, I began to question why I was so resistant. And, near the end of our five-day session, I wrapped my hair on the top of my head.

My beautiful training group. I'm on the right.

My beautiful training group. I’m on the right.

It was very emotional for me. As a child, I was desperate to hide the fact that I was Indian. I wanted nothing more than to be white. I did everything I could to blend in, which, being brown-skinned, never really worked.

My intense feelings of powerlessness and separation – of feeling inherently inferior in my brownness – had become, in my mind, my karma. I didn’t belong anywhere on this planet, and there was nothing I could do about it.

These past few months have taken me on a journey of discovering the jewels of my ancestry, and what it means to be a woman – an Indian woman – in this day and age. It has been one intense, beautiful roller coaster ride as I unearth emotions buried deep within me, and in my ancestral line. Planet Earth is reawakening to the Divine Feminine – we know this. What truths can I now speak, that my ancestors could not?

Wrapping my hair was symbolic; it marked a return to myself.

A new path is emerging, one my childhood self couldn’t see. I have renewed hope of living from the oneness of which I am a part. I understand that I can’t be separate, because there is no separation – no matter how convincing the illusion, the maya, appears. Of course, my ego has a hard time with this. It wants to stay separate…to believe I’m inferior or superior, but never the same.

Karma used to feel like a curse, a burden – but I now see it as a gift, in that I’m totally responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions in this here-and-now. I can do my best to live from my highest truth and consciousness, and correct anything I feel needs correcting. That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I live in ‘love light bliss’ all the time. It means I do my best.

And instead of obsessing about karma, I can choose to live my dharma.

My dharma is my purpose. It is the guiding factor in my life. It remained elusive for many years, but I’m starting to see it now. It’s what I’ve been doing all along. My dharma is not a job or a business or a project or a baby or any ‘thing’ out there. It is within. It is transforming all those things I once hated about myself into sources of strength, beauty, and love – in service to all.

Words cannot express my gratitude for my teachers, friends, and the sacred Kundalini Yoga teachings. I bow in deep reverence. Sat Nam.

when does karma become an excuse?

Karma’s been on my mind a lot lately. Through my yoga training these past few months, I’m opening to the idea of my dharma transforming my (perceptions of) karma. Given that it’s a full moon weekend, and the tail end of Mercury Retrograde, I thought I’d share this post from early in my blogging days. Though I can still relate to these words, I also see where so much has shifted. Here’s to transformation that serves our highest potential!

Sat Nam

alohaleya

The concept of karma has long played a central role in my life.  It imprinted on my psyche at a young age and has since shaped my identity.  My theories about what ‘my karma’ is have defined who I am and what I see myself as capable or deserving of in this lifetime.

Life experiences, mundane and significant, are often filtered through the lens of how they might relate to my karma. Maybe I have ‘unfinished business’ with so-and-so.  Maybe I did this to someone in a past life, so they’re doing it to me now.  Future plans and decisions are made with a cautionary inner voice: Maybe it’s not in your karma to do/have this.

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com) Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Where did this obsession with my karma originate? Ancestors, religion, society…an innocuous comment someone once made, which caused a fundamental rewire in my brain?

Does it…

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solstice, samskara, surrender

As we enter the winter solstice, I’m in awe of nature’s rhythms. Last week, my city was struck with back-to-back severe windstorms and heavy rains. It was evident that Gaia was doing some serious clearing and cleansing.

The dramatic weather perfectly mirrored my internal state as my frustrations, irritations, and limitations thrashed about. I felt uncomfortable and angry, like a caged bird. A prisoner in my own home, and in my own mind.

It took all my might to tune into a quiet, still voice from within. Is this how you want it to be? Do you realize you can let some of this go, once and for all?

A beautiful solstice labyrinth created by my friend G.

A beautiful solstice labyrinth created by my friend G.

The comments from my last post got me thinking about attachment to our emotions, particularly our pain. To me there’s no question that to become whole, essential beings, we must feel all our feelings – the light and the shadow, the joy and the sorrow.

But some of us get so comfortable processing the darkness that it becomes our identity. We don’t know when or how to give ourselves permission to stop. We drown in our samskaras, our karmic patterns and habitual tendencies. We can’t tell if we’re healing or wallowing.

Even though we want to feel lighter, brighter, and more carefree, we’re more at home in melancholia. Heaviness feels real, because we’ve practiced it for so long. The ‘light’ feels unknown, an empty space. For some of us, this emptiness evokes annihilation.

We don’t want to shun the darkness, but we would like some relief.

Obviously it’s a personal journey and one that demands radical self-honesty. Only we can know for ourselves when we’re avoiding painful emotions, when they’ve become a crutch or habit, and when we can let them go. This knowing happens in the heart and not the mind. It has many subtle layers.

For me it’s required a higher level of trust in something beyond ‘me’. It’s required humility in acknowledging that I can’t navigate the journey alone. It’s required the acceptance that I am not in control, I don’t know why things happen the way they do, and that I’m totally Spirit-dependent. It means having to let go of who I thought I was, and be willing to start anew. My ego hates all of that.

View from my apartment window

View from my apartment window

The thing about the howling wind and pouring rain…there was no question that it would pass. It had to. The real question was, would I allow the light that was sure to follow? Am I going to take myself out of my present hermitage and isolation, and embrace the love that’s all around? The love I once judged as ‘not good enough’, because I myself felt ‘not good enough’? Am I going to trust that grace exists?

I recently completed a 40-day meditation as part of my Kundalini Yoga homework. My samskaras – chronic anger, frustration, and reactivity – rose to the surface in a big way. As did the realization that it is totally in my power to release them, if that’s what I want. It may take time, discipline, and commitment…but it can happen.

I feel blessed to have lived on this island for the past few months. There aren’t words to describe what has opened for me. It was here that, fifteen years ago, I first discovered I was an angry woman. I’ve come full circle, and I’m ready to move forward.

It’s time to unburden ourselves from the weight we no longer need to carry. We’re allowed to surrender it to the light…the light of the solstice, the light of the Divine, and the light of the collective consciousness. We can trust that what’s ready for release will be transformed for the highest good. Once and For All.

june blossoming

I have always loved this Anais quote. It seems to be my personal mantra these past couple years. This feeling (knowing) that it’s time to let go of stories, wounds, and fears, and walk in peace, joy, freedom, and authenticity.

But I’m also learning to be patient with the process. Much as I love teachings that focus on joy, expansion, and positivity, the darker sides of being human – those intense and painful shadow states – are all part of it, and resisting them means we’re not fully living.

I visualize it as my inner pendulum swinging, and over time it moves more towards joy.

Lately I’ve been allowing every emotional state that I experience, with no apologies. If I’m feeling judgy, angry, bitchy…I allow it. For so long – my whole life! – I’ve been hard on myself for feeling things that are ‘not spiritual’, afraid of some form of punishment or karmic retribution. But in resisting those emotions, I’ve locked them inside. And they want out!

There is something so incredibly freeing about allowing yourself to feel whatever you want to feel. And I think allowance of everything we feel comes from a place of recognizing our inherent Goodness. That is, I’m not so terrified of my negative feelings, because I’m not as identified with them. I don’t see them as really ‘me’.

Only in that process of really allowing those feelings, can they neutralize.

I’m also learning that most people have these dark feelings to some degree. And this has enabled me to experience more compassion and connection with others, rather than automatically seeing them as ‘better off/worse off’ than me.

Blossoming into our greatness is not some singular joyous event. There are lots of growing pains. For me, ‘joy’ does not mean, smiling, happy, and perky all the time. It means a gradual deepening into peace and contentment.

And peace is not boring, which I also used to fear. Peace and contentment mean tapping into the subtle awe, mystery, magic, and intrigue of life in ways we couldn’t perceive before.

Here’s to a joyful June, everyone!

the intensity of april

I’ve been reading a lot of messages lately about the intense, cosmically-charged month of April.  This is said to be a time when universal energies are massively supporting us in pursuing our deepest desires and dreams. These same energies can cause us severe discomfort if we continue to operate from fear and old patterns.

I try to be discerning when it comes to New Age (for lack of a better term) channellings and predictions…but I’m feelin’ it so far!

a new dawn

a new dawn

I had a mini meltdown at work last week.  I almost broke down in tears in front of my boss – that’s never happened – and told him I needed to take the next day off for the sake of my mental health (that’s also never happened).

I’ve written about my work situation before, so I won’t repeat myself here.  Suffice it to say, it’s getting harder and harder to engage in work I’m not connected to on a deep level.

When your body feels heavier and heavier the closer you get to work, it’s probably time to leave.  When you’re crying in your office, it’s probably time to leave. When you’re getting progressively snappy with clients you actually like, it’s probably time to leave.

When you know it’s not going to get any better…it’s time to leave.

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On some level I’ve carried a belief that what I ‘do’ on the outside shouldn’t matter.  That is, if I am truly aligned with spirit – with joy, with my true essence – then what I do for employment is irrelevant.  To be ‘spiritual’ means you can be at peace in any situation, right? Otherwise – your happiness is contingent on some external circumstance.

There is some truth to that. But could it also be ego, in clever disguise?  If the soul wants to express, and it’s the soul’s nature to express and expand – what does it do to us, to contain and suppress that massive force?  It becomes an internal war. We constantly fight our soul’s desire, because ‘this is reality’ and ‘there are bills to pay’. We know there’s a bigger vision for us, but we tell ourselves to ‘get over it’, because ‘things could be a lot worse’.

What makes it especially challenging is that the soul’s vision is often far subtler than the ‘facts’ of our current reality.

We have in our collective consciousness the lingering belief that suffering is somehow noble and spiritual.  That struggle marks a meaningful life.  Sometimes feeling good – the idea of having our dreams come true – seems too easy.

Many of us also carry a deep sense of unworthiness.  How do we even begin creating the life of our dreams?  It’s entirely new territory, with no roadmap.  Even the baby steps seem monumental, if we have a core belief that we don’t deserve what we want most.

So what to do?

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Mass consciousness likes having a plan. It believes it’s impractical and irrational to give up security when you don’t have something concrete to replace it with.

But a new language is developing.  What I take from these messages of April is that it’s becoming easier to access our soul’s desire, dialogue with it, and learn how it wants to create.  I’m seeing where I have hid behind fear and excuses, masked as ‘facts’, to avoid the risk and discomfort that comes with radical change.

Things are shifting as more humans awaken to their true essence and its desire to express.  Concepts of  ‘struggle’, ‘unworthiness’, and ‘karma’ are becoming very tiresome for me personally.  It’s time for something new!  I am seeing glimmers of hope and brightness for greater possibilities in my own life, and I know many others are feeling it for themselves too.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy to delve deep into our dark places and transform old conditioning.  We may feel lonely and cut-off from a world that isn’t very familiar with soul, essence, intuition, and multidimensionality.  But as more of us learn to speak and trust this new language, we gather strength in numbers.  In this way we create the new reality.

Bring it on, April.