Tears stream down my face as I sit cross legged and cross eyed in a room full of others doing the same. We’re all dressed in white and we’ve been doing Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training all day for the past three days. This is our last exercise for the weekend before a monthlong break.

It’s a short, “sweet” exercise my trainer smiles, radiating with an intoxicating yet unassuming grace. She guides us gently through the whole process, watching over us as she speaks: “begin in your most beautiful and regal meditation posture.”

Precise and Prescriptive

We sit patiently as she explains an exacting series of mental, third eye focuses and the silent mantra that we will be repeating throughout the meditation. “Now, draw your eyes down to 1/10th open, your gaze is on the tip of your nose.”

Most meditations and even exercises in Kundalini are done with the eyes completely closed, but as I’ve progressed to training I’ve come to enjoy this one. It has a remarkable disarming and balancing effect, allowing for a lot of clearing – and that’s just what I’ve come to know through my own, very brief experiences so far.

“The eyes focused at the tip of the nose causes the optic nerves to cross at the third eye. Thus it is easier to bring your mental focus to the Third Eye while the eyes are directed at the tip of the nose. Both the pineal and the pituitary glands and the area between them are stimulated by this eye posture, which has the effect of breaking old habits and creating new ones.”

Raviana.com

Taking Aim at Deep Pain

I get excited as I feel my mental defenses begin to shut down.

She then leads us through some corresponding Third Eye excercises, how they will be interspersed with breathwork and finally begins the meditation prompts. “Deep breath in, suspend the breath and bring to mind an encounter or incident that happened to you.”

My mind immediately rushes to one of my earliest traumas, something that has impacted my life greatly and haunts me daily. A memory I don’t care to think about that has also somehow still weaved itself into the very fabric of my heart and mind.

“Really?!” I hear a desperate whisper from somewhere inside of me but there is no stopping to listen, I’m locked into the meditation. The rhythms of the practice’s mantra and Third Eye patterns, the enchanting drishti (eye gaze) and my trainer’s reassuring voice all working together to help me unlock these very deep pains that just minutes before I had no awareness of.

Trusting the Process

We repeat the sequence. That’s when the tears start, flowing uninhibited from my eyes – yet somehow my gaze remains fixed and strong. I’m sweating, profusely, but I’m trembling like I am cold. I can’t even think much about these things though – my entire mental plane is consumed by the prompting of my trainer.

“Visualize and re-live the actual feeling of the encounter.” More tears, more sweat, more trembling. Repeat.

We are lead on a powerful journey, step by step. Switching roles with the Other in our encounter and remembering the experience from their perspective.

Rediscovering the Past

It was a shock. I wasn’t experiencing my expectations or assumptions about my Other’s perspective at all, I was experiencing their stress, their distractions and their fear. They had no awareness of how their pain was affecting me in the memory at all.

We complete the meditation by repeating the internal codes of sacred geometry and vibrations in silence again before we continue on to forgiving the Other and our Self. The cycling finally ending with our focus on “letting go of the incident and releasing it to the universe.”

We then go through the steps of closing out our practice for the day, but I’m still crying. I get a picture of the meditation from my trainer and thank her for the impactful weekend, she asks if I’m okay and I smile, still crying as I nod and say “yeah, just -” while motioning erratically around my head. She nods back silently and I am comforted to know she too has experienced the rewriting of her own history.

Healing with Patience and Joy

I sit on my mat, and cry some more. Another student comes up to ask me something and then realizes I’m processing and respectfully tells me we can talk another time. I smile genuinely at her too, as tears still fall from my eyes.

I returned to my regal posture as the room buzzed around me with everyone preparing to leave. Breathing long and deep I set my intention to clear the rest of my process so I can actually get home and another meditation we learned this weekend comes to mind.

This meditation incorporates celestial movements, mudras and arm movements in specific patterns, with a mantra that you recite outloud. It takes me an instant to decide to do it mentally so I don’t call attention to myself.

It’s a fun meditation for children to do in stressful times. Within maybe a just a few brief minutes I was beaming again, the tears completely gone.

“The mind become a monster when it becomes your master. The mind is an angel when it is your servant.”

Yogi Bhajan

Two years ago, December 2017, I began on a journey I had been starting my whole life. I’ve always been too conscious. I’d always asked to many questions. But there I was, finally doing something about it.

Sure, I’d meditated before. Sure, I’d fasted and journaled and exercised and read personal development books and articles – sure – I’d been obsessed. Sure, I’d been following High Existence online for years, but there I was: doing something about it.

I had seen HE’s 30 Challenges to Enlightenment bopping around on the interwebs for a while already, but I had only just bought the program and December 2017 was my first official 30 Day Challenge: High on Existence. No drugs, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine for a whole month – and because I’m me, I included sugar (I’m more addicted to it that any of those other substances). I anticipated a difficult time, but was pleasantly surprised: I actually enjoyed myself.

Development and Growth

Subsequent challenges would prove more difficult and with time my personal development would again evolve, but I can’t help thinking back to the ease of that December, and how empowering it felt to feel so in control of myself. Flash forward to today though: I’m a mess.

I keep waking up late, I’m gloriously failing at implementing my own Sadhana practice for my Kundalini yoga teacher training, my self-care has been minimal, I can’t seem to keep up with my responsibilities and I’m randomly overwhelmed with such intense emotions and thoughts that they consume my whole being. Ah yes, the putrid smell of growth.

Since December 2017 so much has happened in my life, I feel like almost an entirely different person. I’ve taken trips to the underworld and back with Momma Aya, I’ve begun to develop a more comprehensive understanding of my Being through yoga and meditation, I’ve started developing peer and mentor relationships with people I admire and respect, I’ve learned Reiki and began practicing Divination for others, I’ve started to heal trauma and confront fears, I’ve begun bloging and am blooming more purposefully in my life… All to find myself here: feeling more out of control than I did back then, before any of this began. But is that really what’s going on?

No Longer Playing Games

You see, along with my personal development, I’ve been doing deep spiritual work too. It’s not as simple as getting “better,” it’s about dismantling my egoic understanding of “better” and the manipulative devices I am conditioned to deploy in this world as a result of those delusions.

You see, 2 years ago my ego was still calling the shots. Being able to detach from my vices so easily felt good because it confirmed my biases about my abilities to manipulate myself – er, I mean exert self-control. But those subsequent challenges? The meditations and self-care? Those required so much more than self-manipulation.

In the last 2 years I’ve learned to give my ego a backseat, and it’s shaken everything up. At times, I am literally completely out of control – in fact, I aspire to be totally out of control. Yet, my ego is still there, still screaming and throwing fits. It’s not so nice when it’s not getting it’s way: confirming biases and coming out “on top.”

Choosing a Master

Alas, there we were, still listening. See, I may have put Ego in the backseat, but Spirit was still back there too. Observer was up front with Wisdom navigating, but kept getting distracted by all the commotion:

Are we there yet?!” Ego likes to scream.

Where exactly do you want to be?” Wisdom replies, “You haven’t exactly helped us formulate a plan E.”

“Be here,” Spirit wispers.

“I don’t know, I don’t care!” E screams, “Anywhere but here! Somewhere exciting! Let’s do something good, let’s do something seen. I don’t want to waste my time, and I’m not letting any of you waste yours either.”

“We’re all in this together E, and I love your passion,” Spirit cooes, grabbing E’s hand on the seat between them and giving it a little squeeze while gazing deeply into E’s potential.

Ego recoils sharply, with a look of disgust for Spirit’s vulnerability and affection. Spirit remains, unfazed by the discomfort and reaction.

“Well?! Go O!” E yells again, at which point Observer is startled to find itself in the driver’s seat, speechless.

“Seriously?! What’s your problem? Just GO!” Ego exclaims, growing in ferocity.

Observer turns to Wisdom for guidance and W shrugs as if to say, “I know.”

And this sort of thing was going on for a while… ‘Round and ’round; it’s completely immobilizing. It couldn’t continue, I had to choose a different driver.

It would seem, despite my naive assumptions of meditation training, that Observer isn’t the best driver – but I can’t put Ego back in that seat again either. Wisdom is squarely in the navigation position, of its own personal assertion, so that leaves Spirit.

The most obvious and unassuming of all. Of course, surrendering to Divine grace is the answer! But have you tried to actually do that? It’s not exactly easy.

Seeing Clearly

It’s not as simple as deciding to do something and doing it anymore. Everything is scrutinized and examined, mostly because Ego is in the backseat DEMANDING it to be so. That’s been one of the major lessons in my life this past year: much of my “personal development” has actually been more “Ego development.”

Even putting Observer in the driver’s seat was Ego’s move. E knew that O could be manipulated, overwhelmed and controlled. Spirit is always the one to, not fight back but, remain tranquil and resilient despite anything Ego tries to do. As far as Ego’s concerned, “SPIRIT CANNOT BE THE DRIVER!”

I’ve only just made this choice as consequence of my calling to Kundalini and everything I’m dealing with now are just the consequences. It’s seriously maddening at times though. I am actually at war within myself.

Ego knows it’s different this time, and it’s not giving up control without a fight. It’s using everything it can to its advantage: old patterns, pain, manipulation, self-sabotage and symptoms of mental illnesses all resurfacing within me to try and force E’s desperate agenda. And yet, with Spirit now in full power, I am unphased.

Accepting the Promises of Grace

Maybe I’m not waking up and doing the perfect Sadhana every day, but I’m reconstructing the patterns within my heart and mind that have made me content in my excessive comfort. Maybe I’m not practicing self-care or approaching my goals and projects as mindfully as I want to, but I am rooting out the lies of unworthiness, insecurity and fear that have plagued my life. Maybe I’ve not yet mastered the simplicity of my own Sovereignty, but with Spirit at the healm it’s only a matter of time before I get better and better at developing those skills and understandings too.

Personal development can look like a flawless execution of a challenge, but it can also feel like falling apart. Dense pockets of conditioning require a bit of finesse and tenderness, but they have to be worked through. Whatever isn’t flowing, is growing stagnant and contributing to dis-ease.

As much as we want to undergo growth to feel better, we have to be willing to work through even those patterns and pains that make us feel worse. True healing doesn’t happen at the surface, and this is just one of those times I get to explore a messier side to the art of growing. Even amidst the struggles I can rejoice knowing I will make it through.

“Ah! Fine! Can we at least get going now!?” E says in a defiant huff.

“Only once you’ve calmed down dear one, where we are going an attitude won’t serve you…” Spirit encourages with a smile, “but we’ve got all the time in the world to sit, here, with you.”

Ego’s eyes grow big with disbelief and wonder. Caught within the illusions of its own fear, subject to everything but distractions, for once E seems itself speechless – emitting only: “… okay.”

I’m laying on the floor of the quiet yoga studio, accompanied by mats, books and a couple sleeping yogis. We just completed our first official Aquarian Sadhana and we’re taking a break before teacher training officially starts up for the second day.

Do I look tired? ‘Cause I feel tired!

I got up before 4am to make it here by 5 – not something I’ve never done in my life, but certainly not my usual. Per my self, I was up until almost midnight last night, partially because I had to write yesterday’s blog but mostly because it was nighttime and I always come alive at night. Needless to say, 4am came mighty early and there were at least a couple moments during our Sadhana shavasana and meditations that I felt myself waking, so I imagine I was drifting off to sleep despite myself.

Of course, now that I have an hour to rest, my coffee has fully kicked it! Alas, I am settling for a reclined position and getting ahead with this post (mostly so that when I get home later I can pass out without worrying about it lol). Seems like a good plan, albeit sleeping right now would be better.

What is a Sadhana?

“What is Sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best.”

-Yogi Bhajan

In Kundalini yoga, we are encouraged to have a personal practice or Sadhana. Most often Sadhana’s happen in the morning before the start of the day. This is so that the entire day experiences the benefits of your practice, but it is possible to practice it at other times. The important thing is to have a disciplined daily practice in which you show up to meet with the divine and align with your highest (least dense/frustrated) self.

A Sadhana can be simple. I’ve heard from our trainer that we will be assigned a 3-minute daily practice for the weeks in between this training and the next 3-day weekend intensive in order to simply start making the habit for ourselves. However, traditional Sadhanas are 2 1/2 hours long and some, like the Aquarian Sadhana, follow a strict kriya and meditation schedule.

My First Taste of Tradition

I have been attempting to create my own Sadhana practice for months, if not over a year already. Throughout this period of time I have experience stints where my intentions have been very successful, yet there have been other breaking points that have proven more distracting and difficult for whatever reason (grandma’s health scares this summer and prepping for my showcase last month both come to mind). I am certainly excited to start trying again though, especially gradually and with the support of my trainer and the other students.

That being said, I think my longest personal Sadhana to date was probably just over an hour. This morning’s experienced easily doubled that and had me squirming (when I wasn’t falling asleep).

There were moments this morning (and yesterday, and during White Tantra last weekend…) when my ego was SCREAMING at me: “what do you think you’re doing? Whyyyyy? You hate this! STOP! Your back hurts, your hips hurt, your knees hurt… You can’t even stop fidgeting, you’ve already failed, just GIVE UP!” Yet, it can’t seem to understand that all its desperate pleadings and bullying only serve to convince me of my need for this practice even more.

Progress, not Perfection

The thing is, Kundalini is a personal practice. Most of the kriyas and meditations are done with your eyes closed, specifically to encourage deep internal personal reflection and growth. That means, no one is watching me and my ego squirm, they’re all dealing with there own devils – no, on this mat it’s just me, Spirit and my ego.

I see me squirm. I hear the voice of my mean and cruel ego trying to bully me. I experience the subtle and gentle encouragements of Spirit: “keep going, you’ve got this, YOU ARE SO STRONG! Rest if you must, this is for you.”

Sadhana, even the traditional Aquarian Sadhana, isn’t about obtaining perfection. There’s no right or wrong way to show up on your mat, the key is showing up. The daily discipline then contributes to progress.

There are few joys as rich and fulfilling as witnessing your own progress, personally, with only Spirit and your ego as witnesses. Small things, like bending a little deeper, filling your lungs a little more and holding a posture for even just a second longer than last time become milestones and PROOF that you truly can overcome all those nasty little things your ego wants to get on you about.

It is in the difficulties that we are given the opportunity to build true strength.

mayryanna

Alright, back to class. Love and blessings my dears!

Showing up for the Yin yoga class my sister teaches at our local wellness center last night, I was cheerfully greeted by one of my Kundalini teachers at the front desk. “Oh Mayry! I’m so glad you’re here, it’s so good to see you!” Her smile was so big her eyes scrunched together to make room.

Now, this isn’t uncommon for the vibes at Taspens, but last night was also special because I had just officially registered for the Kundalini teacher training course they will be offering in the fall. I beamed right back at her, filled with joy and excitement for being a part of this incredible local tribe.

I was a bit early for the Yin class and began some light conversation. The owner of Taspens and a woman I consider a personal guru of mine joined in as well. She also teaches Kundalini and was excited to let me know a few of my next steps.

“I’ll schedule a call with the teacher for you, to discuss a few things,” she said, and then went on to mention the mandatory Saturday Sadhana practices during the course and signing the code of conduct at the end to get our certification. I nodded along in agreement, smiling.

Suddenly, my attention shifted though, “the code is essentially a commitment to the yogic lifestyle. So, trying for a vegetarian diet, abstaining from drugs…” Right there, “uh oh,” I thought as I shifted uneasily on my feet.

Honoring My Truth

I have been leaning vegetarian for the last dozen years but, no drugs? Given that I just found my hag stone after my plant medicine retreat in June and, according to my own personal beliefs, have thus been officially called to the Shamanic path, I worried this might actually be a problem.

“So…” I started, interrupting the flow of chatter between the teachers, “if I were unable to sign the code because I’ve been called to the Shamanic path, would I still be able to take the course?” I asked, nervously.

Shamanism is a part of my path for sure, but I’ve also been called to Kundalini. Not being able to reconcile the too seemed completely wrong – Pachamama had come to me through Ayahuasca AND through Kundalini, how could they be opposed?

“Yes,” both teachers exclaimed, looking at me and then each other, then back at me. They started, “and it’s just about trying your best, we understand some people have to eat meat for medical reasons… Maybe just try it for 40 days, you might be surprised…”

I cut in again, “I have no problem with the diet, it’s just that… I am called to the utilization of ‘drugs’ on a ceremonial basis for medicinal and religious purposes.” They seemed to finally understand what I meant now, their eyes widening to fully ingest what I was saying. “Oh, no, well – he just wants to get everything out in the open up front so there are no suprises when it’s time to sign the code… But, you will talk to him so you can mention that. If at the end you don’t sign, that will always be your choice to make.” My guru finished, half-smiling.

The big smile returned to my face and both teachers responded with large smiles blooming across theirs as well. “Okay awesome,” I sighed, relieved.

Embracing the Unknown

Now, some may wonder, “what’s the point of taking Kundalini teacher training if you know you won’t be able to get certified?!” And honestly, I don’t blame them.

In this world of achievement laden “value,” it would seem I am setting out to rob myself. After all, the certification is the reason for undergoing any professional training, is it not? Well, I suppose it’s not for me.

Some might say I should just lie, or withhold the truth, sign the code anyway. Others might tell me I need to really consider the code and whether I truly feel called to both of these seemingly “contradictory” paths, or even something to the tune of “perhaps your plant medicine experiences are behind you and this is the next step in your development?” To be sure, I’ve thought all these things for myself already too.

But, I cannot lie. Fundamentally, my commitment to authenticity and truth is what has aligned me with my path, and subsequently both of these paths too. And undoubtedly, I feel beyond called to both of them, I am already connected and intertwined with them spiritually. Finally, given the parts that plant medicine has played in my past, I cannot in good consciousness banish all plant medicines from my life in the future – regardless of how well meaning my intention is in doing so.

No, the mental gymnastics to be done here are not to rectify me to the norm – it’s the opposite. I will be a Kundalini Shaman and I will learn to walk this line with grace and appreciation.

Letting Mayryanna Bloom

Somehow it all seems better suited anyway… I’m not just a guru, I’m a Rockstar Guru. I’m not just a yogi, I’m a Rebel Yogi. I’m not just a Shaman, I’m an Modern Eclectic Pagan Medicine Woman who researches and utilizes a variety of ancient spiritual healing modalities to live my authentically powerful life to the fullest – all without shame, malice or discontentment.

I don’t need a certificate. I will proudly slap “Unofficial” to the front of my teacher title and gratefully explain my why to everyone who cares.

This “inconvenient truth” will not detract from me at all, no. This will only empower me more. By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.

By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.

So, after some careful reflections and considerations, I’m even more excited to study Kundalini now! Certification shmertification – nothing compares to a soul that fully embraces its fate, inconveniences and all (shout out to Nietzsche for his concept of Amor Fati). I am simply grateful for the opportunity to learn, to grow and to further become this gloriously inglorious woman: Mayryanna.