Alignment and Flow in Kundalini Yoga.
Shabd Guru – the yoga of sound
Kundalini yoga uses mantras and shabds during meditations and they form an important part of Kundalini yoga classes and teacher training. They are used because shabd guru is a particularly powerful solution to the problems of the times. Sha = the ego. Bd = to cut. It is a special sound that cuts the ego and puts us in touch with the longing of our soul.
The sacred scripture known as the Siri Guru Granth Sahib which is Sikh in origin is where shabd is drawn from. Although all religious traditions have a practice of calling out. In Christianity; hallelujah. In Judaism; Yehovah. In Hinduism; Om Namah Shiva In Buddhism; Om Mani Padme Hum. and for Muslims, Allah. The common theme is chanting the name of god. It is this that awakens spiritual intelligence through vibration at a cellular level to create a feeling of ease/bliss (sahaj).
The anatomy of sound
Phonemes are the smallest unit of speech that distinguishes one word from another. Shabd Guru uses this atomic level of language.
There are two systems of grammer ~ one normal, the other ‘nirukta’ which means beyond the forms. When a sounds innate vibration corresponds to or in some way reproduces what it refers to, it is a sacred language.
If we take the word Wah He Guru. Wah sounds like wonderful. A eureka moment. Inspiration, opening, expansion. An energising sound. He is a sound of holding, containing. Gu a contraction, a concentration, consolidation and Ru, release, let go. So the mantra takes you on this journey.
The more you more away from the primary, earliest languages the less the connection of the word to the object (look at roots of words – Ra – the sun; the ray, the realisation, the revelation. Ma – the moon; the mother, nourishment) So basic word units were put together according to the energy, emotion and awareness they create. Fundamental vibrations that resonate with universal energies within us.
Use of different sounds
Ordinary language although an efficent way to communicate is highly ineffective vibrationally in that it doesn’t correspond to anything .
Using affirmations is usually a temporary fix and assumes we know what we need. It is also difficult to maintain motivation if the behaviour we are trying to encourage or change does not resonate in the body and mind at a cellular level
Mantras cleanse subconscious.
Shabd awakens spiritual intelligence through vibration at cellular level this resonance creates ease / bliss (sahaj)
It has a neutral content that disassociate from personal. It is not indoctrinating – trying to put something on you rather it is clearing, awakening. It is Primary information that taps into our spiritual DNA. The perfect weave of rhythm, sound, tone, focus and meaning. The raaga or mood it is played in conveys the feeling and the poetry and word convey the meaning. When a shabd is sung in the prescribed raag it gives the words an emotional charge and thereby creates a true understanding of the way the gurus intended the message to be conveyed. Different shabds relate to different common themes. There are 34 different raags which convey the whole range of human emotion.
Know how not just know what. ‘It gives procedural knowledge that is in your cells and subconscious, not just representational knowledge in your ideas. Informs our formative tendencies, to structure our structuring. It is the order behind the order.
We have 2 voices inside the voice of the ego and the voice of the soul. We are often speaking to ourselves and others from the perspective of the ego mind. We need to establish a relationship between the mind (selfish and impatient side) and the soul (honest and sincere side). We can then acknowledge both and get them to work together rather than against each other. We are all working through our patterns and processes, our karma to line up with our core intelligence, to find our integrity. The question is whether this this a joyful journey or a struggle. The teachings are compassionate. Time is brutal.
The technology of the yoga of sound
The ancient yogis considered that there were 2 caves; the bij (seed) gupha is the cave for bringing in new life, using the male & female sexual organs for procreation. The second cave is gian gupha which is the cave of wisdom; tongue and mouth are used as a merger with the divine where the tongue represents the penis and the mouth the vagina – you are making love to yourself! There are 84 points – 32 pairs of points on the hard palate nearer to the teeth and 20 pairs in a ‘U’ shape on the central part of the palate. When stimulated by the tongue these points are like a pressing the right keys on a keyword to access the computer. The computer is the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is connected to the pituitary which is the master endocrine gland and plays a key role in regulating hunger, thirst, sleep, moods, emotional behaviour and sexuality. So Shabd Guru stimulates the hypothalamus to change the chemistry of the brain so that it becomes a more highly receptive instrument. It also helps the mental, emotional and physical bodies to integrate more harmoniously. In fact there are;
4 areas affected by sound and breathe combination via neuro-endocrine link.
- ‘the autonomic nerves, sympathetic and parasympathetic that control states of excitement, relaxation and high performance
- the senses and c.n.s. through the neuro-chemical ocean of the body that connects all the cells
- endocrine system that produces hormones and controls our moods and the feeling of vitality and energy
- the immune system’
Problems of these times
Chronic illness, including changes happening at a cellular level (for example cancer is the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells), auto immune disease (the system that would normally protect you starts attacking you), hormonal imbalances leading to disturbed sleep patterns and mood swings including irritability and anger, sugar cravings, high/low blood pressure, PMS, low/high libido, addictions/obsessions/
(1) Information Overload
Including increase in complexity of tasks and conflicting messages. Exposed to masses of information all trying to form/mould you (including e.g.; advertising/social structure/history competing to engineer us). Not easy to know what is relevant/no clear way to filter out useless. All of this is causing a bottleneck of stress and inability to process. Also a constant bombardment of discordant vibrations.
(2) We are living in a time of great paradox
- Fast pace and less time.
- More global and yet demands to be individualise; to be unique.
- A breakdown of extended communities, especially the extended family that would often live together, and so a need for other communities to establish. Often crowded cities have the most single people living alone and feeling isolated.
- Fewer boundaries and yet more demand for political separation/clear demarcation of policies as a consequence; diffusion of identity makes some look towards ‘leaders’ to give them a voice.
(3) An emphasis on the technological and material side of bringing increased complexity, deferred responsibility and lack of human contact.
(4) Success is measured by our stamina and constant peak performance.
(5) Illusion of Choice.
All knowledge and information is available at the touch of a button but to choose wisely assumes that we have a reference point from which to assess our real needs and determine our values.
What’s happening in technology puts particular demands on us
We need faster processing power.
More information storage capacity
Greater Complexity; because there are multi levels, for example within an organization there is less predictability. There is also greater accountability through greater tracking. This means that karmic consequences are more immediate.
More networking and less boundaries. Communication is global which changes the power relationships.
Pollutants and radiation puts an increased demand on our endocrine and hormonal systems. All of this leads to an increased sensitivity and load on the C.N.S (central nervous system)
The end of the Piscean Age and the begining of the Age of Aquarius
Now that we are transitioning out of the Piscean age and into the age of Aquarius we are becoming aware that;
Info and knowledge are not enough we need wisdom. Knowledge becomes wisdom when it becomes your personal experience. We need to reconcile & integrate the spiritual side of life with the material side so that we can find value & meaning.
The breakup of communities and the unpredictable nature of the times means we are more fearful and insecure. The antidote is more love and unity.
Our actions either directly or indirectly affect many others. We cannot live as though we are in isolation.
What Is Needed?
Technological complexity will continue unabated so to increase stamina and constantly performing at our peak we need to go inward and regenerate.
Less predictability means we need to become more intuitive so that we find ourselves in the right place at the right time successfully engaged in the right activity.
To appreciate change and learning as lifelong and continuous. Learning how to learn. The many levels and subtleties to learning requires flexibility and adaptability; mentally, emotionally and physically. This means being prepared to let all preconceptions die to discover something new.
Clarity comes from embedded core values and a vertical axis to keep the spiritual alive. A reference point acts as an directive to know when to act and when not to. It is like a rudder to guide and steer us in the right direction whether seas are choppy or calm.
We need an integration of the spiritual side of life with the material side. We need a spiritual fitness to give meaning. We over identify with the ego mind which makes us forget our relative value and limitations.
Intellect is not enough we need in-tell-igence. An abundance of knowledge will no longer represent empowerment. It gives the illusion that so much is possible, the illusion of control. In fact it adds to the confusion. Guidance comes from embedded ‘core values’ that open up our capacity to relate intuitively via a sense of the infinite to the unity of the uni-verse.
The coming age will be governed by increased sensitivity and whether we can live with this. People will numb out more. ‘Cold Depression’ will become more widespread. We need the capacity to read the context & relate universally to have a healthy sense of proportion and perspective.
Read about the solution in the post; mantra, shabd and the yoga of sound
Attitude and Energy
There are many claims made for healing at an energetic level and many claiming ‘everything is just energy’
Thankfully most people don’t expect to be completely healed by visiting a health practitioner and often the most stubborn health issue/s (usually one or two) don’t ever completely resolve however long you have treatment for and however many practitioners you try.
Despite this because the flow of energy improves so does your overall energy levels, some other symptoms and perhaps there is some shift, however small in the most stubborn complaint (that is manifesting at the soul/genetic level). So, for example you feel less tired, your digestion and sleep improve and you feel better, even though the original complaint, that bugs you the most, does not ever really resolve. These are often issues that run in a family, and so run deep in the genes. Some people therefore conclude that holistic medicine does not work. For others they are happy to enjoy the often unexpected benefits of other things improving.
Blocks to the healing process
When considering blocks to the healing process it is honest for the practitioner and liberating to the client to work towards a change of attitude as well as a change in energy. A change of attitude is a change of perspective and a change of thinking and this is more likely to last in the long run and usually has more chance of persisting to impact us at the deeper levels where the resistance and inherited karmic patterns are deeper.
Energy and power, consciousness and presence
This corresponds to the elements of water; power. And air; presence. Blocks to healing can arise in relation to both. In this excerpt from his book ‘Let The Numbers Guide You’ Shiv Charan shows that it’s not just about energetic change;
‘Different religious and cultural communities tend to emphasize different pairs of numbers. The 2 and 8 are numbers (water element) that have been central too much in the oriental way of thinking. The association of the Tao with the element water, the study of the polarities of yin and yang, the eight trigrams of the I Ching, the eight spokes on the wheel of dharma in the Buddhist tradition…
Generally speaking it is harder, or just more challenging since it calls for more consciousness and responsibility, to negotiate a change of a person’s attitude as opposed to changing the energy flow, whether within the person or in their environment. Therefore, water power or energy flow has tended to become the popular concerns of practices such as Feng Shui since it does not call upon the responsibility of the people to influence their environment and their own lives. Rather it places all the emphasis on external factors in the naïve hope that people will gain benefit from this without their own contribution of presence. (Note this is contrary to the original spirit of Feng Shui, which concerns itself with both the movement of the wind and the water powers)’ (Shiv Charan Singh p 181 & 144 – 145 Let the Numbers Guide You)
Differences between men and women in the transition from child to adult
Problems for men
The male has extra challenges at birth. Yogic teachings say that ‘acid bath’ numbs the right hemisphere of the brain. This can be balanced during pregnancy, in child raising, and by the maturing adult’s decision to give birth to his intuitive and sensitive nature. Secondly, he faces more of a polarity during his separation from the Mother, especially between the ages of 7-14.
The man commonly projects the image of the ideal woman in an attempt to resolve his separation anxiety. In addition he has resented at times being told what to do by his Mother. This ‘backlash’ accounts in no small part for the over emphasis on the woman as a sex object to be manipulated and controlled. This is of course exploited and exacerbated by the media.
If the mother is unaware of the process of separation that the son must confront or if there are no good male role models this can set up a cycle for faliure in future relationships. This is made worse if he is dominated or over mothered.
There is a more gradual maturation of creative potential within the young man with the adult trying to appear mature before they are. Yogi Bhajan advised against sexual activity until the man is 24 years old saying that the testicles are not fully mature until this time.
Problems for women
For the female there is less polarity & separation. Both the Mother and her daughter have arc lines, from nipple to nipple and across the heart chakra, which maintains their connection. The main problem comes if the mother did not want a girl, then the self-esteem of the child is affected.
The girl matures earlier than the boy in most cases which also accounts in part for a higher percentage of success rates in pre-secondary schooling. 14 – 21 can be a difficult transition time for women as their physical form is changing and they often become self conscious. Promiscuity may become a pattern in an attempt to feel loved; Woman must differentiate between need and love. Between her nieve instinct and her awakening intuition. Her intuition helps her to tell the difference between his ego (and lies) and his essence.
Quick meals (once you have a stock!)
Chickpea Soup (River Cottage, light and easy, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – a favourite cook book)
Serves 2 – 4
Healing from the inside out
Considering the story of your life; every organ is a character with a special role to play. Depending on health and lifestyle choices, organs can become friends or foes. Learn how to harmonize your inner supporting cast; achieving inner health, harmony and peace.
Your organs are people!
The 10 major organs of the body are alive in us! The liver is the teacher, the heart is the emperor and the lung is the artist, and also the warrior. By getting to know these teachers within and applying their teachings you can transform your health and your life.
The distinction between body and mind and the brain and the body are created but us. Medical science continues to reveal that the hormones made in our organs affect the brain as much or more than the brain affects the organs. For example, our white cells know how to adapt and engage the body to kill off foreign invaders. They have memory, make decisions and communicate.
Yin and Yang Organs
The yin organs resemble yin in being more dense, nourishing and static. They store vital and purified substances such as blood, qi, and body fluids. They connect us to our spirit and we can’t easily live without them. They are the Spleen and Pancreas, Kidney, Heart and Lung. The Liver operates as the bridge between our spiritual and material life.
The Heart and Lung can be seen as having hollow and dense aspects and so they are seen as the more yang of the yin organs. Also because they are in the upper (yang) part of the body. The Heart in particular is constantly beating and is mostly hollow, it moves and stores the blood. It is the most yang of the yin organs.
The yang organs connect us to our material life. They are active, digesting and transforming the substances that are moved along them. Yang corresponds to activity and so these organs are constantly filling and emptying. They change, separate and excrete the products of the food we eat in order to give us energy. They are also more in contact with the exterior of the body if we consider the mouth as an extension of the stomach, the bladder ending in the urethra and the intestines ending at the anus.
These are the brain, uterus, bone marrow and Gallbladder. These are organs that are hollow but filled with purified substances. They are then yang in structure but yin in function.
Click on the Organ Chart Summary below these 2 videos to read more about the associations between body, mind and spirit that come alive when we come to know that characters that live within us!
Despite all of our efforts to keep healthy the body is complex and paradoxical. After the loss of our premature baby boy at 15 hours old it was revealed that my wife had liver disease from an unknown cause and needed a new one. Life’s big challenges, and a regular kundalini yoga practice, remind us that we are not our body or our mind, or the emotional ups and downs of life. We are a soul with a destiny and our soul lives on after we die. Since you won’t be needing your body when you die carry a donor card to remind you of the unique opportunity you have to bring life back to those that our still living once your soul is ready to move on.
In the Sikh faith we use the expression ‘ Cherdi Kala’ which means always be in elevated spirits. Your soul is always elevated, undiminishable as it is. It cannot be improved upon or healed, or negatively effected by anything that happens to us. It is just waiting, calmly and patiently for us to return to it.
The following books and recipes have been used frequently by me over the years;
River Cottage – light and easy – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
This is a wheat and milk free cook book. I've found some that are also gluten and sugar free and many that are egg free and that also follow food combining principles. Here are some excellent recipes;
Breads – Carrot cornbread p67, Socca p74,
Soups – Chickpea soup p114, Roasted fennel & lemon soup p122, Creamy roasted tomato soup p12,
Salads – Tomatoes with tahini p166,
Veg – Caper & olive pesto p278,
Fruit – Pear, ginger and cashew fool p332,
Treats – Castagnaccio p366 (use coconut nectar sugar instead of brown sugar), Chestnut marmalade muffins (2 eggs for 10 muffins) p376, Spiced date and almond cookies p387 (2 eggs for 12-14 cookies), Cashew cream p394
Leon – Fast vegetarian – Jane Baxter & Henry Dimbleby.
Veg Stock – p23,
Soups – Spinach & lentil soup p59,
Fritters & Pancakes – Turnip pancakes p99,
Curry – Stuffed aubergine curry p177 (you don't need to have small aubergines, just slice thinly)
River Cottage – much more veg – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Fragrant veg stoup – A comforting dish, somewhere between a stew and a soup. p64,
New potatoes and lentils with coriander and tamarind sauce – delicious. p98,
Green garlic and carrots with preserved lemon – This simple side-dish is a real delicacy and treat for the senses. p114,
Roast squash and walnuts, two ways – A light dish that works great with salad leaves. p127,
Fennel, lentil and seaweed soup – It turns out velvety in texture, need I say more! p203,
Carrots with dukka and preserved lemon – A tempting mix of bashed nuts and spices. p250,
Green new potatoes – Hot little new potatoes, fantastic tossed with this lovely raw sauce. p323,
Squash mash – Enriched with peanut butter, trickled with chili oil, quite tasty. p358,
Deliciously Ella – with friends – Ella Woodward.
Great book with exiting and wholesome recipes. Ella provides an abundance of additional information on healthy eating in all of her books and if your new to eating a plant based diet this book is a fantastic starting point.
Sweet poatoe noodles with a creamy peanut satay sauce – tastes as good as it sounds! p86,
Garlicky black beans – A simple way of adding rich flavour to any meal, healthy & hearty. p190,
The case for soup stock, wild foods and eating more fruit
It is common knowledge that the soil is far more depleted now than decades ago. A study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Vitamin levels are even more depleted. The Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data between 1975 and 1997 found vitamin A levels down 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. These reports are more than 20 years old now so the situation will be worse now. Add to this soil depletion, fertiliser 'enhanced', herbicide raised, pesticide sprayed, genetically altered and hydrogen ripened and the fact that because fertilised food is forced to grow more quickly their roots are more shallow – all these are good reasons to buy organic whenever you can. Organic plants are allowed to ripen in their own time so they have deeper roots which take up more space and are therefore better able to store nutrients, this is especially true of fruit, since many fruits grow on trees
So to increase your nutrient levels;
- Eat more wild foods that haven't had the nutrition breed out of them. For example dandelions have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a “superfood.”
- Make a stock for your soup – by boiling a large quantity of vegetables you have the resultant water which is swimming in nutrients (yes I know the argument about eating raw food for higher vitamin and mineral content but warming food helps with assimilation, especially if your digestion is not so strong and the cold energy of raw food can compromise your ability to turn the food into available energy).
- Eat more fruit. Since many fruits come from trees and tree roots go deeper there is more chance that the nutrient they are
The following stock and soup recipes are ones that have impressed me over the years and to which I frequently return (some of them have been adapted slightly);
Making a good stock
Stocks can be made from scraps and peelings but will always taste richer and fuller if you use the main body of the vegetables. This is a recipe from Leon, Fast Vegetarian (p23) with some minor adaptions
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 sticks of celery
1 slice of swede
150 g mushrooms
150 g fresh tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
parsley stalks (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions, turn down to a very low heat so that you the sweetness will come out of the onions whilst you chop the celery and leeks. Twist the bay leaves without breaking them completely and add them. Next the carrots and swede and then the rest of the ingredients.
- Add enough water to cover all the vegetables and a bit more.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for an hour with a lid on (allow some air to come out either through the hole in the lid, or by not covering it completely). Strain pushing down on the soft veg to extract all the goodness.
Use for the following (these serve 2 – 4 people depending on your appetite!);
French Onion Soup from Recipes for Self-Healing by Daverick Leggett
"The art of making a good onion soup is to cook the onions slowly"
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil (Daverick only uses 1/2 teaspoon)
1 – 2 teaspoons of dried thyme (1 given)
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (1/2 given)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of tamari
2 tablespoons of miso
water as required.
- Chop the onion. Heat the oil and add the onions and all the herbs, stirring occasionally. Cook slowly for 30 – 45 minutes without burning (if you turn the flame down to it's lowest you only need to stir very occasionally)
- Add the water and tamari, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Scoop out a bit of the water into a cup, break up the miso in this and return to the pot (it's not good to boil miso as you lose the nutrients out of it easily that way). Add extra tamari to taste.
Silky celeriac soup (The Medicinal Chef, Healthy Every Day, Dale Pinnock)
1 – 2 large white onions (a sweeter variety)
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
One medium – large celeriac, peeled and diced
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion (I always get the onion cooking first) and garlic and cook for 10 mins or until soft. Add the celeriac and cook for another 5 mins.
- Add enough veg stock to cover, a little salt and pepper if you like, reduce heat to simmer until celeriac has softened, about 15 minutes.
- Use a stick blender to make a smooth, silky soup.
Daverick says it has an anti inflammatory effect on the upper-to-mid digestive tract and its anti inflammatory effect makes it good for joints and bones.
Chickpea Soup (River Cottage, light and easy, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – a favourite cook book)
3 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon
A pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 x 400g packets of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
800 ml of hot veg stock
1 heaped tablespoon of tahini
Leaves from a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Smoked paprika, to finish
Place a saucepan on a medium heat. Add half the oil, the garlic, preserved lemon and chilli flakes if using. Fry gently for a few minutes, letting the garlic soften but not colour,
Se aside about 5 tablespoons of the chickpeas. Add the remainder to the saucepan, mix well and cook for a further minute. Pour over 750 ml of hot stock and spoon in the tahini. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 – 3 mins.
Puree until smooth. Add a little more stock if the soup seems very thick but keep the texture nicely creamy, Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the parsley with the reserved chickpeas and the remaining extra virgin olive oil. Spoon the herby chickpeas on top of the soup and finish with a pinch or two of smoked paprika.
Very Green Soup (River Cottage, light and easy, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – a favourite cook book)
2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove (optional – 1/2 is given)
100g spinach, any tough stalks removed
100g flat leaf parsley or watercress, or 50 g of each (fresh young nettle tops instead is given to replace this or the spinach to create 'spring nettle soup')
salt and pepper
- Add oil to a large saucepan, when hot, add onion, carrot and garlic, if using, Sweat gently to soften.
- Add the spinach and parsley and/or watercress, about 3/4 of the stock and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few mins until the leaves have wilted. Turn off the heat.
- Blitz with a stick blender