Courtesy of the Author
Yogi Bhajan a master of Kundalini Yoga often said, "Where there is love there is no question!"
He obtained mastery at the age of 16 in the art and science of Kundalini Yoga and began his journey of sharing these teachings in the West during the late 60's. At the core of what he shared was the simple act of daily spiritual practice as the key to uplifting consciousness. Although at first, especially as a teenager, I didn't understand why he kept bringing this point up in the many classes I attended with him. This again? I would think to myself, as his index finger would point up in the air and he would yell at the top of his lungs about how we were so lazy by not getting up in the early morning to meditate and nurture the soul's light. Finally, I got it though. After experiencing being a wife, a mother, a musician, a yoga teacher, and traveling the world, I realized how incredible daily practice is, not only for living life from a place of light and love, but also for creating and sustaining community. In this ever changing and challenging world, I have found nothing more valuable.
In the daily spiritual practice given to us by Yogi Bhajan called the "Aquarian Sadhana", we nurture and support the body, mind and soul by waking before the sunrises and practicing sacred recitation, yoga, meditation, and chanting. I have done one form or another of this practice my whole life. It has been a journey—I was carried into the meditation room before I could walk, and I found myself carrying my own daughter to the meditation room. I have loved getting up and experienced times when it was a struggle to wake up. I have experienced deep states of meditation and merger and then not so deep, highly distracted mornings where my mind was somewhere else. A journey would be stating it lightly. Perhaps better stated, it is a long and unfolding love story. I never understood it this way, until recently when I was researching the practice for my book Original Light. I deepened my understanding of the three stages of merger that Yogi Bhajan taught about in daily spiritual practice. The first is stage is called Sadhana, the second is Aradhana, and the third is Prabhupatee.
In the act of Sadhana we are waking up, we have a place to practice, and we are doing the practice. In this stage we develop discipline, creating new habits of consciousness through our efforts and we are also letting go of old habits and patterns that are no longer helpful or useful. We are uplifting the cellular structure of the body and creating the internal rhythm of divinity within our toes, within our hearts, and our entire being.
In the second stage, called Aradhana, we are present to our practice. This stage is perhaps the one I am working to improve the most right now, growing in ways that my soul is longing for. I am not always present. Although I can get up easily, and get myself to my practice mat, it is difficult at times to just let the mind go, and be in a state of presence. To not want anything, to not make plans, to not solve problems, but to just be in the moment is incredibly challenging for me!
The other day I was reflecting on it, and perhaps I could learn best how to experience Aradhana from my daughter. She is a master at presence, as really most children are. One afternoon, we played together in the swimming pool. She showed me how she could touch the bottom of the pool, we had tea parties under the water, we giggled, our fingers wrinkled like raisins and we got rings around our eyes from the goggles. It was a solid three hours of pure seven year old bliss! For me as an adult, it turned out to be one of the most relaxing experiences of my life, yet it was not without effort. I had to keep dropping back into my capacity for presence, as my eyes would wander to the clock to see what time it was, amidst our raucous laughter and fun.
Similarly, I have begun to apply this same technique of repeated dropping back into my spiritual practice. Even just noticing my mind wandering away is, I have realized, an important step in the whole process of deepening. I have learned to forgive myself, and with nurturing love, bring myself back to the state of my soul. I find that through this repeated, gentle effort, that there are these moments where I enter unannounced into a wonderful and deep meditative place. I can never predict when it will happen, it just does. Like the other day, as I sat meditating, the sun peeked its head just over the treetops to shower my face in light through our meditation room window. I felt that it was more than just sunlight, but the touch of the Divine. I merged in Love with my Beloved.
The experience of the Beloved is the third stage, Prabhupatee. In this stage, the Divine One becomes your "patee" or Husband Lord and you are in so much love with the essence of your practice that you merge. Your practice is not just about you any longer, you have merged in the Divine consciousness of all beings, in the Oneness of your Beloved. As you have chosen your Beloved, so have you been chosen as well and there is no question, no comparison, or struggle. Your love has been stated and you have been accepted into the Divine and Infinite embrace. Like a seven year old girl who just absolutely loves to swim, you have found your love of meditating. This is perhaps the greatest key to a sustained daily spiritual practice that weaves together all three stages, of Sadhana, Aradhana and Prabhupatee. Love. It is what allows us to drop into ourselves and allow this great love story of the soul and the divine to be told.