Friday, December 8, 2017

Evacuated

Monday night of this week I evacuated my home because the entire ridge behind my house was on fire. I have lived in Southern California most of my life. I have lived through and witnessed all kinds of natural and un-natural disasters:  earthquakes, floods, fires, mudslides, as well as drought, inflation, recession, riots, and whatever else you can name. So I don't get too worked up about stuff. I know that it will pass. I also know that while it can seem Biblical and apocalyptic on the news, it's not always that bad on the ground.

This case, however, was the first time I actually had to leave my house and didn't know if it would be there when I came back. I felt deep down it would be okay, but the feeling wasn't related to whether my house was there or not. It's nice to look around the house and know that you aren't attached to much. I grabbed was my computer, phone, a change of clothes, 3 pairs of good shoes and my daughter and my dog and some dog food and toiletries for one night. I didn't think it would last more than one night. 

Four nights later we are still not in our home. There were several nights when the fire was burning 100 yards from our house and I was mentally prepared to go back to ashes. But as of today the news is that my house is still there, and will likely be safe if the winds stay low. However, many friends lots their homes, and at the time of this writing my town is still surrounded by fire on every side.  There is so much collective grief and uncertainty. It has been interesting to see how everyone is handling it. My people are all scattered to the winds.   

In the moment of decision to leave, it was my kundalini family that reached out first and took us in. I am so grateful for them and for everyone who reached out. 

There have been so many hearts turned our direction and so many prayers and meditations and miracles and I know it's because of this. 

All I can say right now is that I know that God only wants to bless us. This is my firm belief. He said to me the morning after when I was walking my dog around the Motel 6 in Carpenteria, "I will never kick you while you're down."  

So although we don't know how yet, this is a huge shift and change for many people that will ultimately be the blessing they have been wishing for. I will say I felt it coming. Not this exactly, but something that would call everyone back to themselves. Selfishness and suffering has been on my mind lately, and this disaster has brought many people out of their own selfishness to open their hearts and help each other and pray for each other. People I didn't know prayed have been telling me they are praying for us. 

When I moved into my house a year go, I intended it as a place of refuge for people who needed healing. I call it Wahe Guru House. I have used it for a few small retreats, but recently I was wondering when it would fulfill its true destiny. It looks like it will soon. So many many people are without homes. The numbers are much higher than the news has shared. My inside sources told me two days ago the numbers were more than 400 homes. We don't know the final count yet. But I will be taking people in if I can and helping out as much as possible. If you would like to help I'm sure we won't turn down any offers. I don't know the actual needs yet but I assume money, food, blankets, clothes, feminine products will always be needed. 

For now I am with friends in Los Angeles breathing sort of clean air and getting to spend time with friends who I don't always see. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the the people who are working night and day trying to contain the fires and save the lives of people and animals. So far no life lost. Another miracle. Keep praying for them and for rain. The air quality is super smokey in all of the middle coast. It's like the inside of a casino in the 80s.  Rain would be so healing.

Love and blessings. May all your prayers come back to you 100 fold.  






Monday, November 27, 2017

Beauty Led Me To Compassion and Unselfishness



This morning as I was finishing my meditation practice, an exceptionally beautiful sunrise saturated the layered clouds in red and pink. I just gaped, knowing that when I opened my eyes again, it would have passed back into ordinary beauty. Which is still the kind of beauty that is mythical, quested for.



I drove my daughter to school this morning, left the dishes in the sink, walked the dog, thought about my weekly accounting that needs to be done, breathed the spicy and sweet air as we walked among the pepper trees and the citrus.

The gophers have been busy in one of the rows between the tangerines. Nature is always moving. What looked one way yesterday is different today. The census of bunnies and birds is daily changing as the hawks and owls and coyotes do their thing. Nothing can be paused, except on film, and yet we humans try--to capture and hold on to what we like and reject what we don't. I have been learning so many lessons lately that keep coming back to the good old four noble truths that Buddha taught.
1. Life is suffering
2. Suffering is caused by attachment
3. Suffering can be alleviated by releasing attachment
4. The way to release attachment is through meditation (and the 8 fold path).

This is so basic to everything. Any time I am suffering I have to remind myself. Like this morning--when it was an Olympic challenge to rise out of bed for meditation. It was attached to how easy it has been on other days, and therefore was grumpy and made it harder for myself.



But the most surprising thing this month of beauty questing has led me to is something that a first sight, seems like the opposite of beauty. When in Hawaii earlier this month a little book found its way to me and I started experimenting with a Buddhist meditation practice called Tonglen. Tonglen is a way of engendering compassion and getting out of selfishness. It is sometimes called the practice of transformation.

In this practice you turn everything upside down and instead of inhaling what you like and want and exhaling what you don't like, you do the opposite. You breathe in all the dark, ugly, negative, hurtful, claustrophobic emotions and thoughts and you breath out light and peace and calm and the desire to alleviate suffering. It's a 4-part process and you start personal but get wider as you go, so that soon you are breathing in not just your own suffering but that of others who are in the same situation, and breathing out the beauty and alleviation of that suffering.

It's actually a transformation that happens within. You are not emptying yourself of good and filling yourself with bad. I believe it gets one in touch with their own power to transform the dark into light and it connects us with others in a way that actually feels satisfying. We put up walls to others suffering out of natural instinct to grasp what we want and reject what we don't.  This practice breaks down walls, helps us connect with people in a way that we really wanted all along. It can be done in a sitting practice as well as in the moment, when the guy on the road cuts you off, or your 11 year old says she hates you. You inhale the hatred and the anger and exhale peace and a wish for healing of the wounds that create her suffering.  Instructions on how to practice Tonglen can be found here. Or you can google it. Pema Chodron has some YouTube videos.

I have been teaching Kundalini Yoga meditation for a long time, and I still think it's one of the most amazing and fast technologies for elevation and change, but I see a lot of people get a attached to the outcomes that it can and often does bring. I feel like a weekly or daily practice of Tonglen is a good way to keep balanced and remember that it's not just about making our own lives better. This is the kind of contemplation practice that led the Buddha to realize four noble truths.

I would love to hear your experiences with Tonglen.
Blessings,


Nam Joti Kaur




Friday, November 10, 2017

Beautiful Women in Kauai Saving The World Through Self-Love

Here are just a few insanely beautiful pictures of my Kauai retreat with so many beautiful women and beautiful memories. This year was as awesome as ever. And because I had so many inquiries on social media about when the next one will be and people saying they want to be there, I thought I would announce it now. For the last 3 years I have done the Kauai retreat in November, but next year I'm doing it in May! May 3-8, 2018. Give it to yourself or Christmas or Mother's Day, or just because, but register now so you get a space. I have a feeling this one is going to sell out quickly. This year I am offering pay in full and also deposit options to hold your spot. Click here to learn more or reserve your place. 


After yoga we took a dip.






Ke'e beach with the beauties

My Halo is super bright. Photographers never know what to do with it. 

Julie snapped this when I wasn't looking. I taught some yoga on the beach before we jumped in. Hideaways Beach.


This is where we stayed.... I had the tower room. 

Discovering new beaches.

Hiking with Rachel

This flower was bigger than my head.

Queen's bath never disappoints.

Hanalei Branch visit is optional, but always lovely.

Evening meditation at the Hale.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Year Of Insane Beauty

I just arrived in Hawaii--to the garden island of Kauai. I bring women here every year for a retreat to reteach them their own beauty.

Beauty is divine. It feeds the hungry soul.  I bring them here and give them permission to strip down to their true, shining and magnetic selves. We do it in Kauai because here, there is nowhere to run from the beauty. They sometimes try. But we saturate in it, until we realize it is us. And we remember.



And we may weep out everything we have carried that is not beauty. Even the tears are beautiful. They fall in our mouths and our ears and on our throats. Each one is a homeopathic remedy, healing the skin, the eyes, lips, throat. And it heals our inner hearing and seeing, so that the perception of aging changes, and when we leave, others see that we look younger. That we are shining, we are all but shooting sparks.








Not everyone can come to Kauai once a year (or more). Not literally. But the journey into beauty and remembering is essential. And everyone can do it by using the mind (imagery/guided meditation). This is the purpose of the mind--to link with the infinite. It is our most powerful tool in a world that is dying of forgetting.



The Universe has called me to go on a beauty quest. And you want to know all the details. Because already in just the words I have shared with you, it has ignited your primitive memory of what we all crave: heaven on earth, your own shining star/god/goddess within.

I anticipate that the quest will not be easy. We fear our beauty and we veil it because we are afraid of being seen. We are afraid of our abusers. And we fear our selves. Being like a star shining brightly--shining for the whole world to see--is vulnerable.

But I'm going to lean into that and trust that the light will dispel all darkness.

The month of November is a perfect time to begin. Everyone is already thinking about gratitude,  which makes the soil richer and ready for beauty to sprout everywhere.

So if you'd like to join me. I'm going to start with one month, and then a year of insane beauty. I don't know where this quest will lead me. But I'm going to start by including yogic beauty secrets in my daily practice. (If you don't know any yogic beauty secrets, you should really check out this Yogic Beauty Secrets course I made last year.)


I also vow to go on a power journey to someplace insanely beautiful once a week via imagery. (Pause for a quick plug about imagery: If you have never used or experience imagery for healing and transformation, I highly recommend it. I have trained 100s of people and I have a training starting in January. The training is like everything I learned in 1 year of hypnotherapy school and 8 years of practice condensed into a fraction of the time and fraction of the cost. You'll learn to help others but also you will personally experience about 10 years of healing in just a few weeks or months. But gently and beautifully. )

And I vow to only post things that are beautiful on social media. I also vow to use only internal dialog that explodes with beauty. Because even our thoughts create karma, attraction or repulsion, aging or reverse aging, etc. (I recorded this simple little affirmation track for kids a few years ago and I think it's the best way to practice having positive thoughts.)

I vow to let myself be noticed, and never ever diminish my own beauty.

If you want to join me, please do. I dare you. I invite you. I beckon you.
You can hash tag #ayearofinsanebeauty or just #beautyquest on IG and other media. I'll try to post often on my blog this month with lots of beauty and updates.





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Teach ye

This week I was read this following scriptures from the Doctrine and Covenants. In these verses the Lord is talking to Joseph Smith. 

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—

I love all the things that the Lord is promising to instruct him in, but I noticed for the first time perhaps that the verses begin with "Teach ye." Teach that you may be instructed. Of course, I know this. That's one reason I love teaching. I learn so much in the process. Yogi Bhajan always said that teaching Kundalini Yoga was way more potent and healing than just doing it. Because God falls in love with a teacher. Everything blessing you could imagine comes to you.

Also of interest in these scriptures are the varied things on the list he is to be instructed in, including things close to home and also things far away, the perplexities of nations, etc. I wondered about the judgments which are on the land. We know that some lands have curses/blessings on them, and I wondered about this. I live in a special place that is sometimes called a spiritual energy vortex. Some people think this is a silly thing--that no land can be more sacred than others. But it says here that it can. I know there are negative energy vortexes too. They are created, good or bad by the imprint of things that happened long ago or recently that keep attracting more of that energy.

So I keep teaching because I am a learning junkie and I know that all learning comes through grace, and even my capacity to learn is grace. So I hope you teach.

Yogi Bhajan said:

What is your strength? Your personal strength as a Teacher is your character. What is your power as a Teacher? The power of a Teacher is grace. 

He said a lot more that that, but that's a good one for today. Have you have any experiences being instructed or head through teaching? Please share.
Do you see the little monkey in the tree?

 If you are interested in becoming a Kudnalini Yoga teacher, keep up with my blog or newsletter. I'll let you know when my next Level 1 Training is scheduled.

Sat Nam,

Nam Joti 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Moderation in Maine

I went to Maine a few weeks ago. It was so fun. I went there because my friend Amy, (who some people might remember from her blog Progressive Pioneer) flew me out to teach some Kundalini Yoga in her area.

The Progressive Ps

Amy's awesome husband is the branch president, and she felt like it would be a great thing to build the kundalini yoga community in their area so I came to help them do it. I taught a couple of classes at the church for members and anyone who wanted to come from the community. One was a kids class, for kids and parents, that was meant to give them tools for stress relief and handling life. It was super fun and inspired me to start Kunda-Kids and Their Parents--which I will officially announce later today. It's a simple way to add yoga and meditation to your life. 


An intro to Kundalini Yoga Class at the Rockland branch.

I am happy meditation for kids.

Kids and adults join for a community Kundalini yoga class for reducing stress and living a balanced life.
I also did a Fireside about meditation when I was there. The whole weekend was well attended and everyone in Maine was very open hearted and friendly and the landscapes were just showing off  their beauty like they had never heard of winter.

I loved the scenery everywhere. 

Hello scenic beauty

These usually grow in bushes. Here there are trees!

I love meditating everywhere. 

Amy's son Sam having a God moment. 

And the best unexpected bonus was that while I was there, Rockland Maine happened to be having the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Festival. First annual. It was a big deal, and there were lots of events and the new Poet Laureate Tracy K Smith even came and spoke and read. And I got to meet her. Huge poet crush by the way. She is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry. 

Tracy K Smith at the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry festival in Rockland Maine

She signed my book. And then I left it in Maine. Oh well. Amy will enjoy it. 

Amy, Tracy and I.

So basically I got to do two of my favorite things in the same weekend and I got to make new friends and deepen old friendships. 

Just a little sketch by Andrew Wyeth--the famous painter who is from Maine. I was so moved by his work. I had heard of him, but seeing work in real life is so different than looking at it in books.  

Even before I knew about the poetry fest, I could feel the poetry in Maine. It feels old, rich and deep with a history of artists. Its funny how some places just hold that vibration and it keeps attracting more of the same-- great artists and writers. Ojai is like that too. That's why I love it here. But I also love Maine. 



I woke up early to do sadhana on the beach and watch the sun rise. These beauties were already up.

I had never seen apple trees growing right on the beach before. 

I love graveyards.

Everything in Maine seemed quaint. Even a flannel and some rope. 

Maggie. She was my roommate in Maine. I love her. And I love the wallpaper. 

Sunflowers by the sea.
I did sadhana on a rock and watched the sun rise over hurricane island as a real hurricane was raging down this very coast. So surreal. It was so calm and still this morning. 


So here is what I learned from my trip to Maine. It actually started when I got home from Bali. When I got home from Bali I realized that very day that I need more creativity in my life. I worked on my novel and poetry a lot in Bali and I knew I had to keep it going now that I'm home. In my life I sometimes get really focused on one thing. For most of my life it was writing, but for the last some-odd years it was yoga and healing, because I needed them to save my life and make me sane. Now that I am sane, I have been feeling the need for balance. So when Maine happened this way, I felt like it was the universe telling me that I don't have to chose. I can have it all. Or have a good amount of both things I love. This is a good way to live. It's called moderation, which is the true definition of meekness. 

The world is all confused about what it means to be meek. In truth, it means to be moderate. Blessed are the moderate, for they shall inherit the earth. I felt like the people of Maine were a great example to me of moderation. They live close to the earth and in sync with her cycle and rhythms and they are all pretty moderate people--I didn't meet many extremes. Just good real humans.

And... I hinted at this in a newsletter a month ago, but since coming back from Bali, I have decided I want to finally get an MFA in writing. MFA means Master of Fine Arts-- which means graduate school. But graduate school in writing means I get to write a lot and be with other poets and writers--which for a writer is basically like a 2 year retreat. 

And so while I was in Maine I thought I would check if they have a low-residency program, and I found out it was ranked 4th in the country. So I applied! And they just called me today to tell me I was accepted to the Stonecoast MFA in poetry.  So.... it looks like I will be going back to Maine in January and July for the next two years. If I chose to go there. I am also applying to NYU Paris. Paris has so much allure, but I feel a stronger pull to Maine at the moment. 

This is going to bring some changes to my life, but mostly I anticipate them all good and trending toward greater balance. Like for one, I am getting some help around here. I hired a housewife! I love keeping house but I can't play housewife, provider, mom, and dad at once. So that will help me fit in the extra time for school. And hopefully allow me to be more of the kind of mom I want to be to my daughter without getting annoyed with her 10 times per day for not cleaning up her mess.  Wahe Guru. And I am a happier mom when I write every day and when I have a house of order. 

So that's all for now. I'll post more soon. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Reflections From Bali

I returned from my trip to the other side of the world a few weeks ago. I spent most of it in Bali, Indonesia -which is the island of 10,000 temples, and then I spent a day in Taiwan, where I visited one of my own beloved LDS temple. There's more to say about my trip than I could possibly hold your attention for, but below are some pictures and some highlights.

Basically, the theme was destiny alignment and Christ consciousness, and I am pretty sure everyone who came had an alignment happen. So I don't know why I'm surprised at how much of an alignment I received as well. I'll talk more about that another time I'm sure.

Meditating by the sea at sunrise. Love. 
Some of my favorite parts were everything that had do with water. I did two different water purification rituals/ceremonies, and I also spent a lot of time snorkeling in the North Bali Sea. I went 11 days early to explore and heal by myself and I experienced a lot of unexpected healing. I am so grateful. It found that it really does take a trip away from your family and your routine and in my case it had to be more than a week and I had to be totally alone-- to remember my true self. 

For the first two weeks I was there, I didn't want to come home and I knew I'd be back again next year and maybe every year. But by the last few days of my trip, after my retreat ended, I was ready to go. In fact, I felt like Bali kicked me out. But this is how these things go and I know this. In places like Bali and also Kauai and Ojai and other spiritual energy vortexes--they kick you out when it's time to go. But always in the right direction. I'm not sure if I'll do another retreat there in the future. I can't even think about that right now. Basically right now, I'm just going to process and enjoy this beautiful healing and alignment.

This is at the water temple. You have to wear or rent a sarong to go in and then you dunk yourself under 21 different fountains that represent different things and cleanse you on different levels. It was super powerful and I felt the purification and was very blissed out by the end. Loved this. 

Master reflexologist that I only know as "papa" who brutalized my feet and laughed at me when I cried, but it was so deeply satisfying and healing. I went back a few times and it didn't hurt by the 3rd time. By the way, feet are all about destiny and your path. 

Monkey jungle was kinda crazy. Especially when the critters jump on you and try to steal your food. Ack. Not as cute as Curious George. Get me out of here. 

Most of my first 10 days were all about food! Jet lag hits you in the stomach. So why no fill it with good food. There was so much to love as a vegetarian in Ubud.

Rented a scooter a couple days and drove the wrong way down one way streets because that's just what you do.... I had a scooter in college for a while so it was good memories. 

When I finally made it up north to the retreat center it was so welcome. I missed the ocean. Ubud is nowhere near the ocean and although it has a lot of yoga, it's kinda crazy there. Like New York City in an India and Hawaii had a baby sort of way. 

Kathryn also rented a scooter. And she had a crash. Ouch. 


Yogi Bhajan was photo bombing some of our retreat pics. This is us out with some local fisherman before the sun rose. Chasing dolphins. 

We found the dolphins.

In front of a temple in the village of Bondalem. Being silly.

The resort built me a gong stand out of bamboo! It was so great! A little big. I told them the dimensions in centimeters but I think they thought I was telling them inches, so they doubled it again. Monumental. 

Just horsemanning around.

We were there for Indonesia National Day. It was their independence day. So we went to a little villiage celebration where there was singing and traditional dances. 

Happy people. 

A mermaid!

Mother and daughter.
It's amazing what the local people do with flowers. They are part of their every day offerings as well as all kind of decorations. 

This is me teaching. The ocean is behind me. Not sure whether they were looking at me or it. 

Local fisherman's boat coming in or going out from fishing. 

We had a talent show. This is Dee pretending to be me. He was the MC.

Jules wrote a song for the talent show called Bali-lujeah. She changed the words to Hallelujeah. It was the most amazing thing I have ever heard. Hillarious too. 

Jenn is sleepy during the talent show.

Jen teaching a class while I just enjoyed. Yay.

Dinner on our final night at the retreat.

Shell. Good bye North Bali Sea.

After the retreat I headed back down sound and past the volcano and the lake in the background.  Very relaxed after a week of almost daily massages. 

The Water Priestess- Ida Resi Alit. A friend told me to visit her and do a ceremony. I am so glad I made it to this remote village to participate in this purification ceremony. It was really an honor. She is so beautiful and serene and truly a holy woman.


                           
After the water priestess. 
Soaked and blissful after our purification ritual in Bangli.


In front of a magnolia field on the drive back down after the retreat. They use these flowers in all their offerings. 


I visited the beach in the south before I left Bali. This part of Bali is over rated after I had been spoiled in the north, but I was happy to touch the ocean one more time. 


This is in Taipei Taiwan at the Chang Kai Shek Memorial. I like arches. 

I almost melted into a puddle walking around Tiapei in the hottest month of the year. But I could still muster a victory pose. 
Also at the CKS memorial. 
I stopped in Taiwan for a long layover and went to the LDS temple. That picture is not worth showing you because by then I had melted.  But if you follow me on instagram you can find more of my journey.  @namjotikaur

Would love to see any of you at my next retreat.

xoxo

Sat Nam.