In Fall 2013, I began my journey into devotion. I set out to practice and study kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. I set out with sincerity, on a path with heart.
When I observed that people who practice the teachings of Yogi Bhajan feel inclined to embrace spiritual names, I grew curious.
I wondered what my spiritual name might be.
So, I followed the current process of acquiring a spiritual name. In the days when Yogi Bhajan walked upon this Earth in a physical body, he gave his students spiritual names. Yogi Bhajan no longer dwells in his physical body, so to acquire a spiritual name, I needed to visit the 3HO website to fill out an online form to request a spiritual name. I happily offered a donation for this service.
I must admit this online process did not feel warm or ceremonious. In my heart I had hoped for something quiet and sacred, imagining an austere GuruDevi speaking my destiny name off her tongue and into my heart; I imagined an organic process with fire, water, and fragrance that would crystalize my destiny into the cosmic consciousness. I must admit I longed for something more intimate and ceremonious than this online routine that felt no different from filling out paperwork at the DMV.
I clicked “submit,” and a few days later, I received an e mail. My spiritual name arrived to me in a formulated missive that said “Sat Nam dear sister in divine. You have been blessed to live as Surjot Kaur…”. The message continued, graciously, to explain what the name means. There was no explanation as to how someone arrived at this name, nor who that someone wat. I read the message on my cell phone while I was pumping gas. When the tank was full, I closed my eyes for a moment and held in my breath. Inwardly I repeated the name several times. I tried to feel that this name belonged to me. Surjot Kaur. Surjot Kaur. Surjot Kaur? Hmmmm.
At the moment I shrugged and thought to myself, Oh, I still like Rebecca better.
When I shared my name with my teacher, Krishna Kaur, she said, “We should be calling you by that name.” When she said this, she was so true and pure in her projection of love and endurance that I had to surrender to her guidance. As someone who “goes with the flow,” I embraced the name Surjot Kaur and have been using it ever since.
But recently, I suffered a broken heart. It’s not a broken heart of a lost romantic love. No. This break goes deeper than that, and there are not sufficient words for this pain. I have suffered injury in my Spiritual Heart. The yogis say there is an etheric place behind the heart where there burns a flame of infinite one heart consciousness. For Surjot Kaur, some strange intruder had moved in upon that flame and compromised its Akashic Prana. A cold and careless force had tricked that flame and sucked out its mystical essence. The flame lost its dance. Weird energy betrayed the radiance of that flame. Ever since this Spiritual Heart was injured, Surjot Kaur endured severe physical, mental, and energetic pain. She had a difficult time focusing, and she really did not want to live any longer.
Alas, she has given up the ghost. Surjot Kaur is dead.
In some spiritual dimension, this afront to the spiritual heart killed Surjot Kaur. Gratefully, she took her last breath while watching Jimmy Fallon’s “Ew!” with her two daughters. Such a silly show! What a weird death! But Surjot was laughing with her daughters. There is no greater joy in the universe. That Mama laughter turned hard and primal and expanded to laughter at All of Life and laughter at Death and Great Cosmic Laughter. In that moment, Surjot Kaur’s heart stopped beating. Right there, she died. She felt released forever from living with a heart that had gotten tossed out in the cold and was abandoned. Surjot Kaur discarded this body.
Surjot Kaur died laughing.
If it sounds unbelievable, just relax into feeling this is just a story. It’s very true in some aspects but may seem embellished and strange, depending on the reader’s states of consciousness. It doesn’t matter; sit back, relax, and enjoy. But get this — after Surjot died, an unknown yogi who had been searching for a new body took up residency in Surjot Kaur’s body. Contrary to what Surjot had always assumed, it is actually surprisingly easy to discard the body, and surprisingly easy for transference of consciousness to occur. And now the flame in the Spiritual Heart of this physical body dances again, and it dances with Breath of God and the Breath of Life and Lord Shiva and Allah, Jehova, Rama, Jesus Christ, Sat Nam, Mother Nature, and Hallelujah!
Now, I continue on my path as Yogi Ma. This is a name that arose from within me. This is a name Surjot Kaur died into and the name that shall give rebirth to this Spiritual Heart. Yogi Ma is easy for everyone to say, and it suits me.
Yogi Ma shall live a destiny that Kabir advises: “We come into this world crying, and everyone around us is laughing. We must live in such a way that when we leave this world, we leave laughing while everyone else around us is crying.”
I have a dear friend and fellow yoga practitioner, Mariel, who has also recently witnessed a death to her being. So, together we went to the beach, burned some herbs, sticks, flowers, grains, and money. We rubbed the hot ashes on our foreheads. We carried more hot ashes to the ocean. We tossed the remains to the vastness as we spoke some gentle parting words to say goodbye to Surjot Kaur and to Mariel. This was intimate. This was a ceremony. This felt sacred.
She and I sat for a long while in silence. We rose from our meditation, reborn.
I bless myself to live as Yogi Ma. I am destined to live as Yogi Ma, whose flame shall dance on, a dance with true friends, the stars, the cosmos, the heavens, and Mother Earth.
A poet whom I had not heard of before a month ago has entered into my awareness, and I write this post to honor the significance of my encounter with his work.
The poet’s name is Pádraig Ó Tuama.
In the beginning of March, I received an e mail from “Poem-a-Day,” an e mail list I subscribe to. I subscribe to so many lists that I quickly glance at message subject lines and am very selective about taking time to open a message. But on this day, the subject line “Makebelieve” intrigued me enough to click open the e mail message that contained Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poem, “Makebelieve.” One click is all…
One never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail message may lead, especially when that message contains a poem with these opening lines: “And on the first day / god made / something up.”
Now, receiving these words delighted me. Fun! To perceive the entire creation can be, quite possibly, one exuberant jazz improvisation! It is great fun to make something up. You go, god! It’s playful! In my own experience, playfulness is the closest I come to divinity. So, yes, I’m in, here we go, let’s play!
In the spirit of improvisation, I encounter this poem, wondering what I can make up here. Suppose this is a first day because, really, it must be a first day of something somewhere for someone. Today is Day One of “Makebelieve.”
Yogi Bhajan taught a meditation that repeats the mantra, “God and Me. Me and God are One.” Repetition of such words primes consciousness to realize Self, God and Creation are one great, shimmering, spinning thrum of spontaneity. With such awareness, the Self may encounter “Makebelieve” as inspiring a creation.
Hello to the flow of possibility!
“Makebelieve” enters my consciousness and begins its elfin dance in my world.
I inhale the entire poem deeply. Let open my cells, nerves, muscles, organs, glands. May I embrace the poem’s vibration within my body. Even the space between each word in the poem enters into my tissues, cells, and nerves. Let words of “Makebelieve” resonate throughout my 72,000 nadis and add to the gospel according to Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana!
And on the first day
Then everything came along:
seconds, sex and
beasts and breaths and rabies;
hunger and healings,
lust and lust’s rejections;
swarming things that swarm
inside the dirt;
girth and grind
and grit and shit and all shit’s
rings inside the treetrunk
and branches broken by the snow;
pig’s hearts and stars,
mystery, suspense and stingrays;
and interests and death;
with all our viruses, laments and
all our songs and made-up stories;
and our songs about the stories
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve
and to hold it all together god made
and those rhyming seasons
that display decay.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Read it again over long moments and visualize welcoming this poem into my pineal gland, and inviting the pineal gland to secrete its Nectar of Mystic Pleasure.
I read the poem over and over aloud and then in a whisper and then silently. I inhale and suspend the breath inside while I silently repeat the poem.
Then I exhale and suspend the breath out while I silently repeat the poem.
Filling and emptying myself with poem and with breath in this way I can amuse / observe myself for hours. I combine a simple, ancient yogic breathing pattern with deeply experiencing this one good contemporary poem. And guess what, Mister Pádraig Ó Tuama? I am meditating with your poem, and breathing consciously all while sitting in my yogi cave! And after regarding your work, sir, I do know how you feel about caves. Hello to the Cave between my eyebrows! Welcome in! You, sir, have nothing to fear in this yogi cave as you are welcomed here with great reverence. Friend, you are known in here as
The Lord of the Rings Inside Tree Trunks!
Not that you created the rings inside tree trunks, but you created my fresh-colored awareness of them. Before I read your poem, the rings inside tree trunks were brown. After reading your poem, for me, the rings inside tree trunks are brown tinged with gold.
Let’s just sit here the day long and breathe this poem. Let every word and thought be intimately entwined with breath awareness. Any poem worth reading demands The Slowed-Breath Reading. Elongate the moments of the poem; take it word by word with lots of pause and be aware of the eye’s movements: ask, over which words or spaces do my lids close then open, close then open? What unseen dust do my lashes flit off? What of the play of light the words toss inside these eyes? When I happen upon a word or groups of words I adore, am I open to regarding their effect inside my body as miraculous as, say, news of the birth of our world’s beloved Savior?
Can breathing and being with this one poem align me up for longed-for, deep-connection encounters with my fellow word-lovers who delight in the wordly realm of divine play?
I seek and find a travel companion in this complete stranger, this Gay Irish Catholic poet named Pádraig, who knows nothing whatsoever of my own queer existence. Now, a shadow of me may lurk in his subconscious mind somewhere as “the reader,” but the way his writing resonates with me, I would have to insist I know him too well. I want to proclaim I am his Brother.
Now, I know I can be perceived to be wearing a woman’s body. But the hug I imagine giving my Brother to thank him for his writings, the heart hug I imagine giving him, is a hug that I give him with a man’s arms, with a man’s heart, with a generous amount of gratitude and admiration transferred through all my man-muscles squeezing. And when we regularly squeeze tension into our muscles and then release, we learn how to let go of tension. Hug often. Squeeze often. Let go often.
But now back to “Poem-a-Day.” This daily e mail offers so much more in one e mail message than one poem per day.
Now I choose to create infinite amounts of time, leisure, open hours, quiet light that urges me to listen to the voice of my soul that says, yes, explore here! Though I have a list of “things to do,” I am choosing to listen to my soul and take a heartfelt dive into this here rich library of resources before me offered by Poetry.org. What truth does this tell about my relationship to my “to do” list?
This e mail message relays all sorts of things that relate to the poem, “Makebelieve.” Welcome all this now to relate to all of me. Let me dwell and draw out this moment when my first encounter with this poem, this poet, this stranger exudes its power. The power of this Stranger is that he piques my curiosity, invites me into a fresh realm of the contemplative journey, a new mystery, and fabulous play. Over the month of March, I have been submersing myself in his writing, and my encounter with this writer is guiding me on a lyrical pilgrimage.
He is returning me, after a long time exploring a variety of sacred texts and bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, his work is returning me to explore love for the The Holy Bible.
The “Makebelieve” poem comes with a list of titles by the author, plus any links to further resources. In the first encounter, I learned a bit of biographical information about Pádraig Ó Tuama. Here is his insight that instantly invited my joyful participation.
“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”
Pádraig Ó Tuama
In this beginning right now is longing for friendship. So, I continue to be here. I learn he wrote a book of poems called Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. Reading a bit further, I learn that The Corrymeela Community is Ireland’s oldest reconciliation community. An easy click on the content below that leads me to the Corrymeela Community homepage.
In the “About Us” page, I read that the Corrymeela Community is a people of “prayers, conversation, curiosity, and questioning.” Instantly, I think, Yes, I adore these people! This is my kind of community. How I long to retreat to such a place where people are devoted to sitting fireside together, drinking cups of tea and engaging in deep, honest conversations about difficult subjects.
How I long to spend every Spring season reading poetry, meditating, practicing yoga kriya, and praying my radiant heart out. Then wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with any person, idea, or state of being that has hurt or helped me and engage in a good, long, difficult talk?
Hello to the distance between us.
Hello to closing that distance with sharing contemplative writing.
Instantly, I ordered my own copy of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. When it arrived to my home in California several days later, I read it over and over. And to dive into the details of how my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and etheric bodies encounter these quiet poems will take so much longer than this blog post. So now all that and all I wish to contemplate and write while slowly reading through his book In the Shelter is filling page after page of my quiet notebooks.
Hello to pure contentment.
Hello to my solitary cloister.
I like to contemplate the different ways we sit with the body when we are in prayer; more specifically, I wonder at the various ways we place the hands to pray. Friend, when you pray, do you fold your hands in what yogis refer to as a Venus lock, with the fingers interlaced and finger tips resting on the back of the hands; or do you press your palms together with the fingers aligned upright pointing each skyward, palm flat against palm, and pressing with a bit of pressure between the palms? Do you pray with the forehead kissing the Earth? What gesture do you use to express that your head serves your heart? What ways do you proclaim to the cosmos your sense of humility and awe in the presence of the divine? Perhaps you find comfort in returning to the curled position humans assume in the womb, all curled up, you pray? In what position do you pray? I wonder: How did Jesus hold his hands and his body, privately, while he was making his most private, inward, anguished prayer? What did Jesus feel within his spine? What word did he use to describe the sensations within his Brahmarandhra?
I love to imagine myself present while the Corrymeela Community prays. I image myself engaging in conversations, arguments, question and answer sessions with everyday people who have endured great suffering and conflict. Let me pour you a cup of tea. Let us bow our heads. Let us pray. Let us breathe. Though I am far away and a complete stranger, please feel me close to you. Feel a friend near, a yogi with a big, generous heart. Please welcome me as one who longs to hear your stories of all that troubles you and all that comforts you.
Here is what I admire about the Corrymeela Community: they sincerely work “to be engaged with the world at its points of fracture, faith and potential.” This resonates with me as a kundalini yogi because Kundalini is defined as “the creative potential within a being.” Potential is always beloved of yogis and this potential blooms from within.
Sadhguru says it like this:
If you know how to be equanimous and exuberant at the same time, there will be no fear. Whatever situation you may face, life will always be beautiful. Once there is exuberance and equanimity in you, your destiny will not be ruled by what happens around you, but only by what happens within you.
I am full of exuberance about this poet I have met through the written word. In my mind and heart I behold his writing…slowly. Perhaps it seems that circumstances prohibit me from physically visiting the Corrymeela Community at this time, other than through my online journey. But as a yogi, I intend to project my subtle body, my intention, and my prayers, which know no bounds. I practice yogic art of subtle transmission to pay my visit to Corrymeela Community. Dear Friends, I am listening.
Here is how I intend to be present and celebrate and be with this community:
I dedicate my own 40 days of kundalini yoga practice of Creative Energy Kriya and the Meditation for Word Power to the Corrymeela Community in “[The] North[ern] [of] Ireland.” Throughout these 40 days, may whatever shifts I observe in my body, my thoughts, my energy, and my consciousness be a dedication to all beings who encounter fracture, faith, and potential. May we engage in these encounters with sensitivity, awareness, listening, and longing for peace. May this practice resonate loving solidarity with those who pray from a place of witness, from a place of humility, from a place of feeling the touch of God’s grace within the depths of human longing.
I repeat: one never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail may lead. Embracing this mystery compels me to wonder at and imagine the ripples, ramifications and consequences of my larger gestures, the great actions I embark upon throughout the day. What will my hands touch? Where will these feet take me? What words will this tongue speak and what impact will all of that movement have, if any? Would it be better or worse if I keep quiet and be still?
So, to close, I shall bow–forehead smooching dirt–to that singular moment when I clicked open that “Poem-a-Day” message. I bow again to the flow that carried me with my own curiosity through the caves within the land of “Makebelieve.” And I bow to every small gesture that guided the poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama, to complete and share his poem “Makebelieve.” I bow to everyone who reads the poem and encounters it with their full consciousness. As this will keep me bowing for quite some time, I surrender some part of my Self to dwell in an inward repetition of Infinite Pranams.
Here is a prayer: May this forty-day Sadhana be a journey into deeper awareness of how creative energy works and what we do now, and can do, with creative energy. May there be realization of heart-to-heart connection. And though each personal “here and now” may seem distant, different, dissonant, or distinct from one another, may we perceive at the heart a brotherhood of glory and a brotherhood of grace. May we come to appreciate the ways in which we are co-creators of peace, conscious repeaters of hurts and reconciliations, and quiet strugglers with internal conflict in a universe of ever-shifting bounds and seasons. May I feel the courage to ask: Is there room enough at your table, you who explore the “Spirituality of Conflict,” to be open to a dialogue with one who wants to learn more about you as she also studies the very-softly-whispering gospels according to Ida, Pingala and Shushmana (the three subtle energy channels that run on the left, right and middle of the human spine that are most important to ancient yogis)?
May every inhale gift a poem; may every exhale give a prayer.
I want to express Infinite Gratitude to the San Bushmen of southern Africa for their One Heart Fire ceremony they hold today in Capetown. It is so comforting to know that there are people today who value and unhold ancient wisdom. It is so comforting to know there are custodians of our Soul Medicine who have the courage to commit to upholding ancient tradition. Even though I am one ordinary woman living in southern California, I feel touched by the shamans’ One Heart Fire. I feel passionate yearning to merge into the energy and intention of the One Heart Fire. From this moment on, I promise to do my best to honor and encourage the growth of Enlightened Unity Consciousness in whatever humble ways that may serve my environments. I celebrate humanity’s entrance into the Ninth Wave of Creation. Sat Nam!
Yogi Bhajan said, “We meditate so that our minds can be sharp and alert. We chant mantras so that our souls may ignite like candles. We walk in the light of this beauty.” I light a candle and practice this meditation to express my solidarity with shamans who Ignite the One Heart Fire in a ceremony that is being held May 24, 2017 by the San Bushmen of southern Africa. It is that simple. It is that timeless. Now I bask in the infinite beauty of these moments before the fire starts.
May the purifying influence of fire destroy all the errors we have made in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. May the ashes of that which is destroyed be carried by the Ninth Wave of Creation to our future as beings who engage in communion and realize unity consciousness. May humanity walk in the light of the One Heart Fire.
Sit on the heals. Forehead rests on the Earth. The hands press together in prayer mudra above the head. We fold the body into a cozy arc. The universe turns dark and humble to prepare. We bow. We wait.
Everything becomes completely still. Wait. We savor these moments just before a blissful union. Extend that stillness as long as possible. We are encouraged to indulge in longing. The divine adores longing.
The only thing that reaches into this long stillness is
Beloved! Forget that we are human. Forget that this planet exists.
There is no human body. There is no human mind. There is no human spirit.
There is Breath of God. There is Breath of Life.
Breath of Life.
Breath of God.
Breath of God.
Breath of Life.
Breath of Life.
Breath of God will herald the Age of Enlightened Unity Consciousness. Breath of God expands where Inhale and Exhale merge into Onehale. Beloved Breath of God ignites the One Heart Fire.
Plesae join the San Shamans of southern Africa as they observe the sacred ceremony of Igniting the One Heart Fire. Let’s all bring more Soul back into the collective consciousness. On May 24, 2017, light a candle and say a prayer.
Dwell in enlightened unity consciousness and feel the blessing of every being’s highest potential. My gifts are yours. Your gifts are mine. There is no longer a need for giving because everything is shared. As One, We share all that is continually conferred by the dazzling universe. This Great Shimmer! This Great Happy Dance! Let every inhale share in our expansion into divine grace. Let every exhale share every brilliant, conscious prayer to feed the One Heart Fire. Sat Nam!
The Indra Nittri meditation was taught by Guru Nanak to his son, Baba Siri Chand. Baba Siri Chand was known as a baal yogi, a yogi who does not age but maintains the youthful appearance of a boy, though he is an old man. The tradition tells us that Baba Siri Chand lived to be 160 years old.
The Siri Mantra, regardless of what meditation you are practicing, brings great intution to the practitioner and should be practiced with great reverence. Indra Nittri means ‘the eyes of Indra.’ This suggests that every pore of the body will become like an all-seeing eye. You will expand your consciousness into great intuitive knowledge, intuitive wisdom.
The Siri Mantra itself translates to mean something like this:
One Creator is Creation, and this true bliss wisdom is gifted by grace; the true bliss wisdom that is gifted by grace is the realization that this One creator and the whole ongoing creation are One.
Its veneration of oneness consciousness makes the Siri Mantra a beautiful mantra to practice to observe May 24, 2017 and the igniting of the One Heart Fire.
Please join me in praciting the Maha Gyan Agni Pranayam to observe the shamanic ceremony to Ignite the One Heart Fire to usher humanity into the Ninth Wave of Creation, enlightened unity consciousness.
May all beings, whether they are aware or not, be warmed by and experience the illuminating power of the One Heart Fire. Sat Nam!