Blog: Yoga Path
by munificent

Gurmukh, Yogi Bhajan on Kundalini

It is 6:33am PST, and I am leaving to go meditate at SRF for an hour and then over to my "Spirtual Community" at Religous Science/New Thought. Then I will swim 1/2 mile in the cold water blogville. These practices make my life joyful, but in order to have the joy of balance-I've got to get off my hiney and kick some booty! Yogi Bhajan was the all time booty kicker!

Date:   4/17/2005 8:39:22 AM   ( 16 y ) ... viewed 2237 times

General Overview of the Chakra System
by Gurmukh with Cathryn Michon More of this Feature
• Part 1: Guide Review
• Part 2: Author Introduction

FIRST CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Organs of Elimination
HUMAN TALENT: Acceptance
SHADOW EMOTION(S): Resentment, Rigidity

SECOND CHAKRA: Area of the Body: The sexua| Organs
HUMAN TALENT: Creativity
COLOR: Orange
SHADOW EMOTION(S): Passionate manipulation, Guilt

THIRD CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Navel Center
HUMAN TALENT: Commitment
COLOR: Yellow Shadow
EMOTION(S): Anger, Greed

FOURTH CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Heart Center
HUMAN TALENT: Compassion
COLOR: Green Shadow
EMOTION(S): Fear, Attachment

FIFTH CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Throat
COLOR: Blue Shadow
EMOTION(S): Denial, Abruptness

SIXTH CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Third Eye Point
COLOR: Indigo
SHADOW EMOTION(S): Confusion, Depression

SEVENTH CHAKRA: Area of the Body: Crown of the Head
HUMAN TALENT: Boundlessness
COLOR: Violet

EIGHTH CHAKRA: Area of the Body: The Electromagnetic Field (Aura)
COLOR: White

You will notice that the first five chakras are each associated with an earthly element -- earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Most people recognize the first four elements, but are unfamiliar with the term "ether." Ether is a subtle, heavenly energy, beyond the earth. As we move up the ladder of chakras, into the higher mental and spiritual realms, there are no longer earthly elements associated with these chakras.

Lust, anger, greed, pride, and attachment are human qualities that result from the imbalance of the eight energy centers called chakras. When these imbalances settle in, we often experience mental or physical problems.

People often come to me with emotional blocks in a certain chakra that have manifested in the creation of a physical illness. The idea that certain emotions and talents live in certain areas of our bodies is not a new one, but I do think some people have taken this too far, and assume that if they get sick it is somehow their own fault. This is a negative way of looking at this phenomenon, and does more harm than good when it comes to healing our bodies and spirits. Your disease is not your fault. Illness is part of the whole learning experience of life, and everybody goes through it. That's what it means to be mortal.

You can take an active, positive role in healing your own mind, body, and spirit.

See your body as God's perfect gift to you, for it is in loving and appreciating our body that we begin the path to consciousness. The eight greatest talents of humankind are located in the eight chakras, the eight major power areas of the body. The Eight Human Talents are the gifts of God that make us different from all other creatures on earth. Happiness is your birthright. The use and cultivation of these eight talents are keys to the happiness that God wants for you.

Happiness is your birthright.

Our bodies are gifts from God. We need them to be here. For it is in loving and appreciating our bodies that we begin the path to consciousness. Happiness is your birthright. Opening, or balancing all your chakras is the key to that happiness.

"The very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is towards happiness."

--The Dalai Lama

It's nearly impossible to balance these eight power centers perfectly to bring out their talents every day of your life. But don't worry, perfection isn't the goal. The goal is to become aware of the energy emanating from each chakra and to be able to call upon it when you need it. Let's say you're called on to make a presentation at a board meeting. You'll need to shift into the fifth chakra located at your throat to communicate your ideas clearly, and the third chakra to give your presentation the special emphasis and punch of commitment. If an angry coworker blows up over the smallest inconvenience, don't meet fire with fire. Try meeting her with your fourth chakra, using compassion to heal the fear and insecurity behind her outburst.

Our bodies are like complex worlds within worlds. We know where they begin and end, and yet they are vast and full of mysteries which we may never understand. No machine has ever been devised by a human that is as complex or artful as our own human body. The ancient system of chakras is a way to understand ourselves. There is an incredible amount of subtle interaction going on all the time.

I have chosen specific Kundalini Yoga exercise sequences and meditations to help you develop the human talent that lies hidden within each chakra. I suggest you choose one or two, and try them for three minutes at least. I always suggest that students begin trying any meditation for three minutes, and increase it to seven, then eleven, eventually working up to thirty-one minutes. You can see improvement by committing to doing the meditation for a longer period of time.

"The life of a yogi is to manifest a beautiful, bountiful and wonderfully blissful tomorrow. That's a yogi."
--Yogi Bhajan

The reason for these specific lengths of time has to do with the numerological significance of each number in the Kundalini Yoga tradition. The greater the amount of time, the greater the benefit. In Kundalini Yoga, we often do movements twenty-six times. Because we have twenty-six vertebrae, twenty-six is an important number to us. For a greater challenge, you can increase the number of repetitions of an exercise to fifty-four or even one hundred and eight if you really want to see faster progress!

It's not what you do, but the courage and commitment that you bring to what you do.

Meditation is not about perfecting or attaining anything. People think they need to go into a trance or be in an altered state to feel they're really meditating. That can and does happen, but meditation is actually the clearinghouse of the mind. Our minds release a thousand thoughts per wink of the eye. Just watch these thoughts as you might watch an ocean wave, not remembering or diagnosing them as they come and go. The real gift is to sit in the middle of all those thoughts, and react to not a one. Keep returning back to your breath, or maybe the sound you're making or the position of your body. Kundalini Meditations usually consist of breath or sound patterns and some specific positions, so you have plenty on which to concentrate.

"Each thought can become an emotion, and a feeling. And with each emotion and feeling, some of them become desires, and to be completed they take up all of your life energy. But if you use every thought and pass it through the intelligence and test it with your consciousness, you shall be successful, doesn't matter what. That's a simple secret of life."
--Yogi Bhajan

When there's an emergency -- for example, if someone is calling from a hospital -- we'll say, "Okay, take a deep breath, and slow down." When you don't allow yourself to breathe, you deny yourself the very gift of life. In yogic terms, we believe that the life force is the "prana," which comes to us through the breath. Allowing yourself to take in enough breath is usually the first thing you need, and it's usually the first thing to go. Breath is free for the taking, but we're often very miserly in the way we dole it out to ourselves. It's not logical, but we all do it.

Before I learned this particular technology for meditation, I experienced the frustration of being told to sit and "meditate," having no idea what that meant. I'm so glad that I now have specific tools and techniques that make meditation less mysterious and more practical.

If you want to make a real change and develop the talent in any chakra, I suggest you do a meditation for that power center for forty days, for whatever length of time feels comfortable. You can start with a shorter time and then increase the time during the forty-day period. If you just aren't up to it one day, you can go back to a three-minute period for that day so you don't have to break your forty-day commitment.

Forty days has historically been a significant time period in many world religions. In the Old Testament it rained for forty days and forty nights. In Christianity there are the forty days of Lent. Forty-day cycles are very important in the Sikh religion as well. Perhaps this is because your physical body renews all the cells in your bloodstream every forty days. For whatever reason, forty days has always been a mystical period of time.

So you see, there are many ways to use these tools. I don't want you ever to feel that the one you pick is not good enough. It doesn't matter if you do something for three minutes or for thirty-one minutes -- it's all good. In this work, it is not what you do, but the focus and depth you bring to it.

Of course, it is my deepest prayer that after you do this work even on the smallest level, you will see real improvement in your life, and you will be inspired to devote more time to using these life-changing tools. In a lifetime of teaching, I have seen the technology of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation create miracles of healing. If you want healing on any level of your life and you are willing to do the work, you will see miracles, too.

The Mystery Hidden Within Each Chakra
The first chakra, which contains the human talent of acceptance, encompasses our organs of elimination. Here we find foundation, security, and habit.

The second chakra, which contains our reproductive organs, is where we find the human talent of creativity.

In the third chakra, we come to the solar plexus area, the stomach, and many of the internal organs, such as the liver and the spleen. This area is the center for energy, for world power, for a sense of control and coordination. It is ruled by the element of fire.

Of these chakras -- the first, second, and third, which make up what we call the lower triangle -- the third is the most subtle. It is the driving force to act and to complete the conceptual ization, the visualization that we have in our lives. It is where we find the human talent of commitment.

In the heart center, the fourth chakra, we find compassion.

The throat area, the fifth chakra, is the part of the body in which we literally "find our voice." This chakra houses the human talent of truth.

The sixth chakra is classically located at the point between the eyebrows, which yogis refer to as the "third eye point," and contains intuition. This is where we find our sense of physical vision, and our extrasensory talent of vision as well.

The seventh chakra is located at the top of the head. The exact area is where the tiny endocrine organ, known as the pineal gland, is found near the crown of the head, where the soft spot on a newborn baby's head is located. This chakra contains the human talent of boundlessness. It is the spiritual center of our physical body.

This experience of boundlessness has many names in many world religions. I chose the word "boundlessness" to describe this spiritual connection, without the specific association of any particular religion.

The last chakra encompasses what is referred to in yogic science as the electromagnetic field. It is our aura, a field of energy surrounding our physical body that makes up the eighth chakra. Western science has proved the existence of this field as a physical phenomenon. The human talent that lives in this chakra is that of radiance.

As you can see, each energy center has a profound impact on our lives. At any given time, we may lose touch with one or another of them, become imbalanced and feel "off." The purpose of this book is to find ways to connect, strengthen, and balance each of these centers on a daily basis. This process is sometimes referred to as "balancing the chakras." It is the very purpose of our lives; it is a constant and worthwhile process.

"If you ever want to be right in your life, bring yourself into balance. The joy of life, the happiness of life, is in balance."
--Yogi Bhajan

When we are unbalanced in our chakras or energy centers, we use those expressions like, "I'm having an off day," "I'm having a bad hair day," "Nothing seemed to go right today." If the chakras are balanced, you'll hear expressions like, "It was such a great day," "It was such a miraculous day. Things went so smoothly today!" And that comes when everything is lined up and the energy is flowing throughout your whole body.

Yoga is the science of breath and angles. It is an ancient science, put together by our wise elders, who were in tune with the energy field of the universe and how it manifests through our physical bodies. When we study yoga, we learn to place our arms, hands, and fingers, and the body itself into very specific postures, creating certain angles. Combined with powerful breathing techniques, these postures can produce amazing changes in our psyche!

"Before us the sages have laid the path. We are taking our first step."
--Yogi Bhajan

Yoga is similar to what keeps most animals fit. One only has to watch the stretching exercises that a cat does, and then see her magnificent body in action as she chases a bird, to understand that the systematic stretching and relaxation of our muscles can keep us fit for life.

In our uniquely human capacity to connect movement with breath and spiritual meaning, yoga is born. The translation of the word "yoga" is " union." This union of breath and movement has as its ultimate goal the harmonious merging of body, mind, and soul into the universal energy surrounding us. We refer to it as the "practice of yoga," and that is what we do in the Kundalini Yoga classes. But the real yoga is how you take what you've learned in class and live it out in the world.

People who are new to yoga ask me, "Is it hard? Do I have to be some kind of athlete?" Oftentimes, they give up on the very idea of yoga before they've even tried it, because they assume that it is something that dancers and acrobats do. I have students who are world-class athletes, and students who are amputees, or paraplegics, or cardiac rehab patients. Absolutely anyone can do this yoga, and everyone will be challenged by it, too. And everyone I have ever seen attempt it, even on the smallest level, has been changed. But please, if you have a medical condition, consult your doctor or chiropractor if you are unsure if your body is ready for a new challenge. Yogic technology is not necessarily a substitute for medical advice or attention; one needs to be sensitive when dealing with the complexities of the body. Once you are aware of your limitations, then be sensitive and get going!

As to "Is it hard?" -- yes, it is. In various ways. Sometimes it's physically hard, sometimes it just annoys a part of your mind, what we sometimes call the "Monkey Mind." The Monkey Mind is the part of your mind that doesn't want to consider the higher questions of life. While the monkey might be asking, "Where is my next banana?" the human is asking, "Where's the next doughnut, cigarette, or mocha latte?" And the Monkey Mind will lie to you, to make sure you keep the bananas or the mocha lattes coming its way. It will tell you that this yoga you are doing is tedious, pointless, silly. Your Monkey Mind can make the yoga seem harder than it is, because it doesn't want to change.

So our Monkey Mind will tell us to turn away from things like yoga, things that portend change and seem "hard." I think we are at a point in history at which we want things to come easily. We have come to value easiness. We want a pill that will fix everything. We just want it taken care of, we want to be fixed, and we want it now. We want our lives to be pain-free, and the lives of our children to be pain-free. But what are we really looking for when we try a new diet or a new drug or a new religion? We get discouraged when things aren't easy and perfect. Kundalini Yoga can be challenging, but unlike a painkiller, it's purpose isn't to mask our pain. It heals our pain.

"There is no freedom which is free."
--Yogi Bhajan

I know, because I have been that person seeking. I spent a great deal of my life searching for the easy, pain-free fix. In my early twenties, as a flower child in the Haight, I became addicted to diet pills, because that seemed like the pain-free path to freedom. Of course, it was not.

Pain is part of the deal.

When I think back to that time, I was so sure someone must have the answer. I wanted someone to tell me how to make my life pain-free. Looking back, I can't imagine who I thought got through their entire lives and managed to avoid the pain. Now I realize there is not now nor has there ever been a single person on this planet who has successfully avoided the pain of being human. Pain is part of the deal.

In fact, the enlightened beings who have graced this planet dealt with the pain of humanness, and it is usually the main point of their story. This is true with Jesus, with Buddha, with Moses, with Gandhi. How did I think I could get around it?

Now since I accept pain as part of the human bargain, I am also free to accept the serenity I believe is my natural state of being. God wants each of us to live in a state of serenity. Serenity, which encompasses happiness and joy, also allows for pain and sorrow, because serenity is a state of being that accepts all of our states without judgment. Serenity is the state of being that exists when we are in balance, when we know our place in the universe, when we are truly able to accept God's will for us. It was the study of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation that taught me about balance and serenity, taught me how to quiet my chattering Monkey Mind, taught me how to focus on and be grateful for each breath I take.

Kundalini Yoga and Meditation have helped me to re-pattern my body and my mind.

As I began to learn this yoga, I began to escape the illusion I could or even wanted to avoid pain. I did begin to see pain, discomfort, and even simple annoyance, as the learning opportunities and blessings that they are. I still don't always see the traffic jam as "a growth opportunity." At first, unconsciously, I may mistake it for a complaining opportunity. And then sometimes the traffic jam, or the grocery line, or any other daily test sends me directly into impatience. I start thinking about whose fault it is that I'm stuck in traffic, or how I shouldn't have to be dealing with this. Kundalini Yoga and Meditation have helped me to re-pattern my body and my mind, so that I don't stay in the illusion of "why me" quite as long, and even when I'm in it, I remember that "this too shall pass."

This yoga can be challenging, but it can also bring such ecstasy. Once you get past the pain or the discomfort or even the simple annoyance, there can be such bliss and joy in the breath and the movement.

Someone sent me a story on the Internet that so perfectly summed up this paradox of how challenging experiences make us stronger.

One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon, and a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. We could never fly.

I asked for Strength ...
And God gave me Challenges to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom ...
And God gave me Problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity ...
And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.
I asked for Courage ...
And God gave me Danger to overcome.
I asked for Love ...
And God gave me Troubled people to help.
I asked for Favors ...
And God gave me Opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed.

I just love that story, because I asked God for a way to avoid pain, and God gave me Kundalini Yoga.

As you begin to read, know that each of these eight energy centers already lives within you, each of the chakras is like that butterfly trying to be born out of its cocoon. The whole process of learning is really the process of uncovering and rediscovering what we already know. That is the process we will undergo together.

I know by the end of this journey we will see our eight glorious human talents begin to thrive. We humans are magnificent creatures. This is the perfect time for us to celebrate and nurture our Eight Human Talents together.

Our bodies are the means by which we come to know and understand our spiritual connection to the Infinite. John O'Donohue, gifted poet of the spirit, sums up this relationship beautifully in the Celtic poem from his book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom.

A Blessing For The Senses

May your body be blessed.
May you realize that your body is a faithful and
beautiful friend of your soul.
And may you be peaceful and joyful and recognize
that your senses are sacred thresholds.
May you realize that holiness is mindful, gazing,
feeling, hearing, and touching.
May your senses gather you and bring you home.
May your senses always enable you to celebrate the universe
and the mystery and possibilities in your presence here.
May the Eros of the Earth bless you.

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