Monday, October 1, 2012

My Guru Ram Das Miracle

About 5 years ago I was living in Italy with my yoga teachers.  It was a huge time of personal transformation for me on many levels (living the yogic lifestyle, getting comfortable with myself as I am etc).  The transformation I want to talk about today is my relationship to miracles and faith.  I love the Yogi Bhajan quote “I don’t believe in miracles, I rely on them.” It takes a HUGE amount of faith in the Universe to trust that the miracle you need will manifest in your life at the right moment.  And that was something that while I always wanted to believe… in my deepest places….I didn’t. 

While I was living in Italy my older sister called with the exciting news that she was pregnant with her second child.  I wasn’t at all surprised by this as I had had an intuitive insight before I left that she would be having a little girl soon.  We were all excited to hear that a new soul had chosen us to be her family.  A few weeks later my sister got the results of a test, which indicated the baby may have a serious developmental condition that would effect her ability to grow and develop in a “normal” way.  This was, of course, very unsettling news. 

When I heard this news I knew right away what I needed to do.  I started chanting 11 repetitions of the Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru Mantra every day.  I’ve heard people say that this mantra will make miracles happen.  After all it is a mantra in celebration of Guru Ram Das, the Lord of Miracles, and I felt like we needed the miracle of a healthy baby.  The first few days I chanted I was really hoping it would help….but felt it my heart that it was a lost cause.  By the 20th day (or so) I noticed that while I was chanting I really (really!) felt that this baby would be totally healthy.  But at other times of day the fear or anxiety of the thought of the challenges this soul may face reared their ugly heads. 

Finally, by the 40th day I realized I had completely dropped my fears.  I had connected during the meditation to the new soul and I knew, absolutely, that she would be perfect.  That she would come into our family and bring joy and that she would live out her destiny exactly as it was written.  And that, in and of itself, felt like a miracle.  That I was able to drop my fear and feel peaceful felt miraculous to me regardless of the health of this child. But Guru Ram Das wasn’t done…

Flash forward to a few months later:  I watched as my beautiful, perfectly healthy niece came into this world.  She has no signs of developmental disability and in fact is incredibly smart (This week in school she’s learning about words that rhyme…so she often comes home chanting things like “Lama, Mama.  Rhymes!”).  While I don’t lay any claim to creating the miracle of a healthy kid…I do feel that I connected to  Guru Ram Das in a very meaningful and personal way during this experience.  I feel the miraculous love of the Universe more and more each day.  And while I still, sometimes, have trouble truly believing that my miracle will come true…. I find it easier now to remember that my prayers have been answered and to rely on God, Guru and/or the Universe to keep answering them.  Sat Nam.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What IS your name again? My Spiritual Name Introduction

Many of you have known me as Kelsey.  For a few days, months, years….or the whole 28 years I’ve been on this planet.  While I like the name given to me by my parents it is clear to me that now is the time to make a change.  10 years ago I was given a Spiritual name that is very dear to me.  From now on, I will be known as Nirmal.  Read on to find out more about this tradition: 

In the Kundalini Yoga tradition there is the opportunity to request your spiritual name.  When Yogi Bhajan (the master of Kundalini Yoga) was alive he personally meditated on each request for a spiritual name and would send you a letter with your new name.  I requested (and received) my name from Yogi Bhajan in 2002.  I remember clearly opening the envelope, standing outside in our driveway and feeling completely pleased and connected to the name. 

Even though I felt an immediate resonance with the name ‘Nirmal’ I was hesitant to use it right away.  For a while it felt to personal and sacred to share with others.  And then I was concerned that others would think it was weird or it would be confusing in my various school or work circles.  More and more over the years I have become aligned with my identity as a Teacher and Trainer of Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan.  The more I follow that path the more people call me Nirmal.  And the more I like it and crave that name to be my whole identify. 

Why would a name have such an impact on me?  For one the beautiful and sweet meaning, Nirmal can be translated in many ways.  In the letter he wrote to my Yogi Bhajan translated it as “the Flow of Harmony.”   A more literal translation (Nir= No, Mal= stain) is stainless.  I’ve also heard “immaculate.”  A spiritual, or destiny name, is both a signifier of who you are in this lifetime and a call to live your highest destiny.  While I think the idea of “flow of harmony” pretty neatly encapsulates who I am I also feel that it is something I will strive towards my whole life.    

So more and more over the years I have been called Nirmal.  It is to the point that I very much associate only with the name Nirmal.  And I am transitioning to using this name in all arenas of my life.  I would like to humbly request that you all make the effort to switch over to calling me this name.  I know there will be times you forget and I will try to gently remind you until it is just the name that rolls off your tongue when you see or think of me.

But this brings up a good point….how do you pronounce it anyway?!?  The first syllable ‘Nir’ sounds just like the word ‘Near.’  The second syllable ‘mal’ sounds like the second half of the word ‘normal.’  So, there you have it….Almost Normal, but not quite (sort of like me, wouldn’t you say?)  J

Each time you call me Nirmal you are not only making me radiantly happy you are also offering a blessing and a prayer for me that I might fulfill my destiny on this planet.  Using someone’s spiritual name is a loving act of service and I very much appreciate your kind efforts in this area!

If all of this talk of spiritual or destiny names has piqued your interest you could consider getting your own!  Before he died Yogi Bhajan trained Nirinjan Kaur in his system of numerology and meditation to select spiritual names.  I know people who have gotten their names from Nirinjan and feel a similar resonance and connection.   There are no requirements to get a spiritual name.  To learn more or request your own:

 If you still have questions about this tradition, pronunciation or my decision to be known as Nirmal I am more than happy to discuss with you…just let me know! 

And here are a few more lovely articles about people who’ve taken on their own spiritual names: 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Walk on your path to the best YOU!

At each moment of each day we have a choice of how we’re going to live, which thoughts we’re going to think and which path we’re going to walk. If we choose to live and think the things that are indoctrinated into us by cultural expectations or limited visions of our self we will walk a path of “just getting by.” If we choose to think elevated thoughts, to see ourselves in the divine web of perfect existence and to work towards serving and helping others we will walk on the path to our highest destiny. When we work with the Ether element we are calling up our ability to live our divinely inspired lives. Ether is lighter than air, it is the element that surrounds and infuses our bodies with the spark of life. When we invoke the qualities of Ether we invoke the spark of all creation in propelling us forward towards our own divinity.

All of this is not to say that there is some perfect image of a yogi or a person that you are striving to be. I remember a time, just after I finished teacher training, when I felt all of this pressure to be a “perfect yogi.” I felt like I was letting myself (or, maybe, God?) down by not getting up before the sun and meditating each day. Like I was missing the point of being a yoga teacher if I didn’t grow my hair or take a cold shower each day. One of the most powerful lessons I learned that helped me turn that self-shaming cycle around was this: You are not here to be the best yogi. You are here to be the best YOU. Everyone’s spiritual path is different, the gifts and limitations you bring to this life are different than anyone else’s. But everyone can develop their gifts and become even more in tune with who they really came here to be. Everyone can make the choices in each moment that bring them away from shame, sadness or contraction and bring them towards destiny, fulfillment and radiance.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Choosing a new way of being, thinking and living can be tough. It requires grit. It requires the tenacity to keep at it even if you’ve failed in the past. It required surrender. And (for me, at least) it requires the grace of God/The Universe/The Infinite. The mantra Wahe Guru taps into that ecstasy of surrendering to and allowing the divine to flow through you and bless you with the grit to walk on your highest path with each and every step.

Wahe Guru!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Events Update

Just a quick note with all of the great yoga events coming up. Fall is a great time to re-connect with friends and get centered before the onslaught of the holiday season. And we're in the final 40 days before the Aquarian Age so it's an especially good time to pray, mediate and enjoy the miracles around you. Hope to see you at one of these special events:
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Guru Ram Das Birthday Sadhana

October 9th is Guru Ram Das's Birthday. A powerful day to gather together in comunity, pray,meditate and chant. I hope you'll be able to join us for a very special sadhana. We'll chant 2 1/2 hours of the Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru Mantra...this is a powerful and uplifting expereince. Don't worry if you've never done a meditation this long can take breaks....and it might be easier than you think.

Sunday October 9th
5am-7:30am (you read that right, AM!)
at my parents house
1169 Veronica Lane Mendota Heights, MN 55105
This is a free Event
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Mantra Night

Back by popular demand! Join us for a night of chanting, yoga, eating, friend and fun!

Saturday October 22nd
5-6:30pm Kundalini Yoga and Meditation featuring the Humme Hum mantra
6:30-8pm Potluck and socializing (bring a small dish to share!)

Donations accepted for the Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings.
1169 Veronica Lane Mendota Heights, MN 55118

About the Mantra
Humme hum braham hum means "We are we. We are God."
This mantra is incredibly healing for both the heart and throat chakras.
It connects us in a sweet, but powerful, way with the vast source
of life, energy and goodness in everyone and everything.
Including ourselves...

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Thanksgiving Yoga

It wouldn't be Thsnkgiving without Kundalini Yoga and Meditation with my Mama!
We hope to see you for a fun, challenging (but totally do-able) yoga class on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving Day

Please bring a generous donation of non-perishable food or money for the Sharing Korner Foodshelf.
Yoga Soul Center
1121 Town Center Drive, Suite 100
Eagan, MN 55123

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aquarian we go!

We are moving from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. If this is a new idea for you I highly suggest this post by Santokh Singh, which covers the philosophy and basics of the transition. I’ve been hearing people talk about this transition since my first days of practicing Kundalini Yoga. At that time it was still 10 years away…and seemed (to me) to be in the very distant future…it was something I would think about later.

Well, now it’s time to think about it. I’ve been noticing changes in people all along this 10-year journey. People becoming more aware and interested in the practice of yoga and meditation. People beginning to accept that we are all connected in subtle, complicated, beautiful ways. People opening their minds and hearts to a new way of looking at the world.

I personally felt the hugeness of this shift in the last 8 months or so. All of the sudden it was SO clear to me that the way I had been approaching my life for the first 26 years just wasn’t going to work anymore. I knew, in my bones, that everything was going to change and I could bury my head in the sand and be crushed by the wave of change….or I could blow up my inner tube and enjoy the ride.

Part of that ride was to spend the summer in New Mexico. I was working on several different events and living in the Mother Ashram. And my real intention was to practice listening to my inner voice and connecting to others who want to ride this spiritual wave. It was an amazing journey and since I’ve been home people have asked me what I learned and what I experienced there. It’s difficult to encapsulate in words but I’ll try. I feel like the lessons I learned on my personal journey at this time are really applicable to the world’s journey into the Aquarian Age. So here we go…

Nirmal’s Lessons for Riding the Wave of Change:

One- Relax. Everything is going to change. Things may not be the way I think I want them to be. Things might feel uncomfortable for a while. And if I relax about it I can find the hidden jewels and nuggets of goodness and wonder in these times. If I just find a calmness within myself I can bring that with me wherever I go or whatever happens. And in the end when I look back I always realize the new reality is exactly where I always really wanted to be.

Two- A rising tide raises all ships. When I focus on allowing myself to feel happy and content I radiate that out to the people around me. When I learn tools to find that calmness I can share those tools. And then the people around me can be more relaxed and calm. Which makes me feel more relaxed and calm. Which…you get where this is going right? This works not only for calmness, joy, wonder, and peacefulness but also for sadness, negativity and fatalism…so be very mindful of your own state. Be diligent about your own happiness. Everyone will thank you for it.

All of these thoughts remind me of my favorite line from my favorite spiritual poem. And it also pretty much encapsulates how I feel about this huge transition the world is passing through right now. So I’ll leave you with these words from Guru Nanak:

“Those who meditate In the core of their being/ Who earn themselves through their hard work/Nanak, Their faces are radiant and beautiful/ And So Very many who are connected with them/Are liberated, too.”Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Deep Thoughts on Turning 27

Lets take a vote. Is 27 the last year of your mid-twenties or the first year of your late twenties? In general I don’t think (or care) much about the exact age I am. In fact, usually when people ask me I have to take a few moments to think about it before answering. But every year around my birthday (yesterday!) is like an awakening of WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE 27!?!?!?!?

It’s silly. I know. It doesn’t MEAN anything to be 27. Just like it doesn’t MEAN anything to be 10 or 81 or 105. It’s just a chronological statement of how long I’ve been in this body, on this planet. But…still…there are these culturally indoctrinated (totally artificial) expectations for certain ages. Have I accomplished those things I am SUPPOSED to have done by age 27? Am I living up to my own (or our societies, or God’s) expectations of me?

For me the answer is, Yes. I am living my destiny. And while that may not look like our culturally projected life (husband, house, kids) …it is what’s right for this Soul’s journey. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Saturn Return. This is a huge astrological event that happens when Saturn returns to the exact place of your birth. It officially happens around 29 but the effects start to be felt around (oh no!) 27. I’m no astrologer, but my understanding of this event is something like this.

The Saturn return is like a second adolescence a shedding of traits, characteristic or circumstances that do not truly fit the person you’re meant to be in this life. You’re Saturn Return brings you into alignment with the next phase of your life and your Authentic Destiny. And here’s the key if you fight it/try to hang on to what ‘used to be’ you’re gonna get crushed. If you relax into and embrace the new clearer more authentic version of yourself that’s trying to come through (while it may still be a challenging time) you’re going to be invigorated and enlivened by the transition.

So, here’s hoping I can enjoy the last year of my MID-twenties and ride the wave of the first year of my Saturn Return with Grace.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Down Time…Update and Musings

I’ve had more down time in the past 2 weeks than I’ve had in a long time. It has been fun and novel to make plans to do fun things, to have long lingering lunches, watch movies in the middle of the day and spend time hanging with friends.

I went to Pagosa Hot Spring, a resort town in Southern Colorado, for a few days with my dear friend Sat Jot Kaur. All we did for 3 days was soak in healing waters, hike to beautiful waterfalls and eat yummy food. After working hard, long hours and doing lots of organizing and coordinating for the past 6 weeks it was lovely to just be simple and relaxed for a few days.

Since then I’ve been trying to enjoy my down time and also really enjoy the things to enjoy in Northern New Mexico. I’ve taken naps, went to the Flea Market, spent a day at Ojo Caliente, watched the last Harry Potter movie at midnight (yes!), gone swing dancing, exchanged bodywork, spent a day shopping in Santa Fe…and lots of lounging.

I’ve been pondering the idea of companionship lately. I realize that while I am happy to spend the day solo enjoying a good book and yummy tea at a coffee shop…. And while I have amazing friends who are entertaining, insightful and loving…even with these things I still sometimes experience that nasty feeling of loneliness. I know that the infinite universe/God is with me, loving me and keeping me company in each moment. So, why does my human body/mind still feel the need for more? What is the Universal Longing to Belong really all about? In my intellectual mind I can understand the human desire to feel seen and connected to other human beings. I can understand the inner child still seeking the validation or recognition of its importance…but when that feeling creeps into your gut the harshness of it…the weight of it…still takes my breath away.

The interesting (dare I say, cool) thing now is that I can have this experience without identifying with it. I’m not sure how I can explain it other than it’s like I am both the actor having the experience and feeling those things AND the observer watching the experience without being attached to them or what they mean. And, I know that these “negative” emotions will pass….and “positive” emotions will come…and doubt will come…and joy will come…and sadness will come…and life will come. And life will keep going….and I can keep up…and enjoy the ride. When I remember that I am not the doer….God is the doer….I am the enjoyer.

I’ve been describing this time of my life as a wave of transition…often saying that I don’t know exactly where the wave is bringing me but I know I’ve got to ride it. My job is just to trust that all will be taken care of. My job is just to take each step when it is shown to me and to trust and love along the way. So that what I’ll do.

And today that step is going to see some of the beautiful works of Georgia O’Keefe at her museum in Santa Fe!