Kundalini yoga is truly something magical. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey through the deepest darkest places inside me. And I continue to learn more and more each and every day. One thing is for sure: no yoga session is exactly the same. You are constantly growing, changing, learning, and observing with each breath and asana.
Most of these moments of clarity came to me either through meditation, watching my self-talk throughout the day, while I’m exercising, or when I reflect on what I was thinking while meditating. Needless to say, my kundalini practice has made me acutely aware of my thoughts every second of the day. I understand why kundalini is known as the yoga of awareness – it truly makes you fully aware of EVERYTHING. Every thought, every feeling, every symptom, every affect. It gives you the awareness you need for self reflection to keep you growing and changing in this lifetime.
I must preface this by saying I have a very strong negative mind. I think this is just part of my DNA and part of how I grew up as a kid; a kind of glass half empty person (at the core). So part of the battle for me is learning how to recondition my brain to be aware of those self defeating thoughts. It’s difficult but I can honestly say the way I think and talk to myself now is so much HEALTHIER– all without the help of medication.
Here are a couple lessons I’ve learned so far:
- Be your own biggest cheerleader – if I can’t praise and motivate myself, I can’t expect other people to do it for me!
- Acknowledge your success – for a long time my motivations for success came from a desire to make my parents proud. In my head I felt like I was living a life for my parents instead of for myself, and that made me feel stuck and limited. I was dependent on their approval. I wanted to stop living my life for those few days when my dad said “I’m so proud of you, Kim!” So one day I looked in the mirror and said that to myself: “I’m proud of you, Kim.” A rush of emotions came over me and I couldn’t stop crying. That recognition from myself is what I was missing most.
- Be kind to yourself – one of my fellow trainees said this spiritual journey is like learning to be your own best friend. For years I’ve lived my life hating myself, judging myself, and being so incredibly HARD on myself. I haven’t stopped this negative thinking completely (I’m only human, right?) but I DO recognize when I fall back into those learned patterns. Every time I have these thoughts I try to immediately say to myself “I love you, Kim.” Try that yourself! It instantly makes me feel nurtured and accepted rather than inadequate.
- Set challenging goals – I sometimes have a tendency to set the bar low to avoid failure or disappointment. This goes hand in hand with my negative mind that is conditioned to avoid pain. I’ve been working through this bad habit by practicing setting challenging goals when I run. Now let me be clear, I was never a runner in my life. I grew up fat and thought running was the devil. But it actually is very meditative in its own twisted way. It really helps me to practice my positive self talk and to practice setting challenging goals. I literally surprise myself with my abilities when I practice these mental games while I run. And even when I disappoint myself by not reaching a goal, I get to practice self forgiveness, which leads me to the next lesson…
- Forgive yourself – this one is a daily challenge for me. Often times we know to forgive ourselves when we commit a SERIOUS mistake. But do you know how to forgive yourself for little things, like getting angry at a slow driver, making a mistake at work, or forgetting to do something? Forgiveness should be a conscious act every minute of the day. I’ve been really trying to practice self forgiveness on a daily basis to remind me not to be so hard on myself.
- Tenaciously work towards goals, but leave the result up to the universe – this one takes a lot of faith and practice. In the West I think we are conditioned to work hard for our goals and be resilient in the process. But no one really teaches you how to react when you don’t reach those goals or when things don’t go as planned. I’m trying to keep this in mind as I prepare for the bar exam – I can be as prepared as possible (and I intend to), but the outcome is not up to me. If I don’t pass, it’s not the end of the world, everything is already in divine order. I never experienced FAITH until I really meditated on this idea.
I hope my rather obvious epiphanies spark some sort of light in you :) Sat nam!