Friday, November 21, 2014

The Width And Depth Of The Heart

The Width and Depth of the Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.––Matthew 5:8

No discussion of the body, mind, and spirit is complete without discussing the heart. The word heart is used more than fifteen hundred times in the scriptures. From the many diverse uses of the word, it is evident the heart is more than a mere physical organ. According to my scriptural research, the heart has the following functions (and more):

  • The heart can have thoughts, intentions, wisdom, and understanding (see Proverbs 2:2; 23:15; Mosiah 5).
  • The heart is a center for transformation and healing (see Alma 5:7, 14).
  • The heart is also a center of communication and a dwelling place of the Spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2).
  • The heart can feel (see 2 Nephi 9:52; Doctrine and Covenants 98:1; 100:12; 110:6; 128:22).
  • The heart can be written on (see Mosiah 5:12).
  • The heart can be open or closed, hard or soft (see 1 Nephi 15:3; Mosiah 2:9; Alma 24:8).
  • It is evident from the repetitive admonition to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5) that the heart is vast and that it may be partitioned off by some (see Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27; and many others).
  • God has told us to purify our hearts that we may stand in His presence and be like Him (Matthew 5:8; Doctrine and Covenants 88:74).

To purify our hearts, we need to give our hearts to God, and in order to do so, we need spiritual technology. For example, fasting and prayer (regularly) are the spiritual technology identified in the following scripture:
Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)

When Christ came and fulfilled the law of Moses, blood sacrifice was no longer necessary; in its place, He required a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 9:20).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says, “Think of the heart as the figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our values.”[1] As you come to understand yogic anatomy and the chakras, you will know these words are not merely poetic. The heart is the literal center of the seven cerebrospinal chakras, the place where the lower triangle (earth bound chakras) and the upper triangle (spiritual/heavenly centered chakras) meet and overlap. The heart is the center for transformation and communication between the physical and etheric bodies.
The heart may also be the center of the mind. In the prior age, the mind and the brain were thought to be one and the same, however, the mind is non-physical. Scientists and mind-body experts now realize that the mind does not exist in the brain but throughout the whole body and even outside of the body. The nucleus of the mind may reside in the heart, a truth I believe is supported by the scriptures.
During the Piscean age the brain was considered king. Its latitude was higher than that of the heart and was therefore considered higher in hierarchy and importance. However, in the 1970s, scientists discovered that the heart has an intricate nervous system of its own. This discovery gave birth to a new branch of science called neurocardiology. It turns out that the body has two brains, with the brain in the head obeying the brain in the heart.[2]

Compared to the electromagnetic field produced by the brain, the electrical component of the heart’s field is about 60 times greater in amplitude, and permeates every cell in the body. The magnetic component is approximately 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body with sensitive magnetometers.[3]

The heart––or as the yogis call it, the Heart Center––is in fact the essence of You. In your mother’s womb, your heart formed first, before the brain and before any other organ. The heart has its own intelligence. It can think and feel and remember.
The scriptures (and the yogic prophecies too) say that in the last days, “all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (Luke 21:26; see also Doctrine and Covenants 88:91). We are living in these times.
  When God asks us to purify our hearts, He is asking us to purify our minds and bodies. The many clichés that exist about the heart can teach us something of its nature. For example, if we are to “get to the heart of the matter” and make a mighty change, we need to look to the heart and use a technology that purifies the mind, body, and spirit.

O all ye that are pure in heart, . . . receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.—Jacob 3:2.

[1]Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul,” Ensign, November 2009,
[2] “Heart-Brain Interactions,” Institute of HeartMath, accessed March 24, 2014,
[3] Rollin McCraty, Raymond Trevor Bradley, and Dana Tomasino, “The Resonant Heart,” Frontiers of Consciousness, February 2005, 15–19.

The Chain Has Been Broken!

The Chain Had\s Been Broken
Sarah Cooksley

Abuse and neglect are patterns of behavior that have long threads travelling through my family lines. My mother did her best to help me and my siblings overcome difficult circumstances and emotional abuse from our father, but she was never given the right tools to handle things in the most efficient way. She has done the best she could, and for that I am grateful.
I feel that meditation has helped me to change habits and deeply ingrained thought patterns in my life. Meditation has also given me greater insight into my mother. I know that she volunteered to bear the brunt of the pain and heartache of abuse and neglect so that she could be the catalyst for change in our family. She was able to save her children from being brought up in a dysfunctional home through her divorce and, eventually, in moving her small family to a different country.
My path toward Kundalini Yoga was put into motion many years before I found this technology. Preparations began when I was a young teenager, during family counselling sessions and tentative attempts to meditate on my own without any instruction or guidance.
Now, many years later, my children are being raised by a mother who knows herself better than ever before. They meditate with me and have seen the difference in our family life. I think I can safely say that the chain of abuse has been broken; the chain that stretched back through several generations of my ancestors no longer binds me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Imagery With Amarjot

I had the most amazing experience with my daughter last night. We have had many amazing times this past few months. Here is a little back story: Amarjot has been seeing angels for I don't know how long, but she has been talking about it for about the last year and a half. She sees them as spots of color. Some large and some small. She doesn't see them all the time, but when she is calm and tuned into her spiritual nature, she will see them.

One night she saw dozens of them in our room when we were staying with some friends. We were trying to read our scriptures and then she started laughing and playing with the little lights that were moving around the room. She was so full of joy as she described them. She laughed as she tried to catch one in her hands, but her fingers went right through it. She pretended to pet the little blue spot of light. It sounded like a laser show, but i couldn't see any of it. At least, not the way she could, but with my spiritual eyes I could imagine what she was describing and I could feel them in the room.

At times she can talk to them and hear/feel answers back. It's really sweet. At one of the yoga classes I taught while on our tour she turned to me after the tune in and said, with wide eyes, that she saw a round ball of color over everyone's head. Everyone in the room. She said they were all different colors.

Well, last night she was telling me that she doesn't really believe they are angels. They must just be something wrong with her eyes. I think someone must have been telling her this. Maybe Satan. Sounds like him. So she was having a doubting moment and I was telling her that she saw them and that they were really angels. But we weren't getting anywhere because she was in an argumentative mood. So I decided to try something different.

I asked her if I could show her how I sometimes see angels. She agreed and laid on the bed and I guided her through a relaxation and into the imagery state. I have only done this with her one other time successfully. She is a natural daydreamer, but until recently, she wasn't old enough to really do the guided imagery kind of thing. So this time I was just hoping and winging it.

I asked her to imagine a special place. She described a white house with a white fence around it and said when she opened the door she felt so much peace. She started to cry. She said she felt so happy she was crying. Inside was a small little girl angel that she described down to the hair and clothes. She had a very sweet conversation with the angel, who she knew. She knew her from before. I knew her too.

The angel told her that the spots she sees are indeed angels. As I watched my daughter in this blissful trance I saw her whole body glowing with light. She was so angelic looking. She was crying tears of joy. I was too.

I asked if she wanted to ask anything else of her angel and she said: "I just want to spend some time with her." So I gave them some time together and when the time was right and after parting words, I brought her back to her waking state.

When she opened her eyes she looked at me with the most pure expression of love I have ever seen. I asked her if she had ever felt that much peace before. I told her that is what Heaven feels like and what I feel like often when I meditate. I told her that it was through the Holy Ghost that she felt that feeling. She hugged me and didn't let go for a long time. It was pretty special. She said she would never forget that night in her whole life.

I am so grateful that I had this immediate answer to a prayer (said that morning) that I could give her an understanding of the gospel. She felt the peace and love of our Savior. And it was awesome! She wanted to feel it all the time. And it looks like she has already figured out how.

Today we went to yoga class and during one of the meditations she didn't feel like doing she just laid down and guided her self through a journey. She told me about it later. I asked her where she went and she said: same place. She kept the details to herself.

Wahe Guru.

Circle of Ancestors

Circle of Ancestors
Name Withheld

I knew I was supposed to do genealogy work for my family. When I learned about generational healing, I had a strong feeling it was the genealogy work I was to focus on. After praying and getting the answer that this was what I was supposed to do, I went to my family tree. I would look at the names and pray. Then the Spirit would direct me to a name.
I had a very strong feeling that I should do work for my great-grandfather’s mother. This surprised me. I also did not know how to go about doing this because my grandfather broke all ties with his father’s family. He changed his name and got away from anything to do with them. He was upset that not only his father but is grandparents had abandoned his family. I didn't know how to do this work. Even though I didn't have my great-grandmother’s name I felt I was suppose to do work for her.  
Then I had an overwhelming feeling to sit in a circle with my great-grandmother and her ex-mother-in-law. I could tell they had had very negative feelings toward each other in this life and wanted to let them go. I sat down in a circle with the two of them and did the mediation Ra Ma Da Sa. The love and power that was present was incredible, the love and forgiveness overwhelming. Not only was this one of the most spiritual experiences I have had, it was eye-opening.
I realized that we never know what the other person is going through. We never know their story. It helped me understand the scripture where Christ tells us to “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other” (Luke 6:27–29). That night during that mediation there was pure love between two women who had every reason to hold a grudge and be offended.

I will forever be grateful for that experience and the lessons I learned while meditating with the spirits of two amazing women. God is love, and if we allow Him, He will change our hearts and open our understanding. With the help of our Savior, we can develop the pure love of Christ. We can let go of pain, anger, hatred, and any feelings or emotions that are not of God. That night I felt the power of God and His healing power through meditation.  

Generational Healing

Generational Healing

If you look close you will find me.

One of the presuppositions of my work is that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have consciously available. This perspective implies our parents and our ancestors did their best, so we shouldn’t blame our parents or their choices. Yet, it is useful to know about these choices, because our parents’ lives influence ours, through DNA and epigenetic imprinting. Epigenetic means “on top of the genes.” Traits and tendencies such as an unhealthy love of chocolate and a disposition to anxiety are not technically on the genome map but are handed down by a kind of imprint on top of the genes.[1] The poet Rilke wrote beautifully about these legacies that exist in us:
Our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still continue on in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.[2]
Though our ancestors passed on strengths and gifts, they also passed on the accumulated garbage. Here is what gospel scholar Truman G. Madsen says about it:
And, therefore, as you look back at your seventy or so forebears . . . you might recognize that you have inherited the blood of many generations. And blood may not be a correct word scientifically, but in the scriptures it stands for seed, which means heredity, the inheritance of tendencies, and all of us have them. You have the blood of this generation, from which we must become clean––“clean from the blood of this generation” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:85). If you do, you will be clean from the blood of every generation, because it is compounded and accumulated into now––and that includes the blood of some degeneration.
So perhaps you do have problems that you can blame on your ancestors, and if you forgive that and choose to stand close to the Lord in the process of purifying your life, that will affect your whole family in both directions. You are not alone. There is no way you can gain solitary and neutral ground. You are in it––you are involved. And this, I believe, is one of the profound meanings of the tame and wild olive trees. If you take a wild branch and graft it into a tame one, if the branch is strong enough it will eventually corrupt and spoil the tree all the way to the roots. But if you take a tame branch and graft it into a wild tree, in due time, if that branch is strong enough, it will heal and regenerate to the very roots. You will have then been an instrument in the sanctification even of your forebears.
To be that kind of branch and achieve that kind of transformation backward and forward is perhaps the greatest achievement of this world. But to do it one must be great, one must be linked, bound to the Lord Jesus Christ. One must be mighty. One must be something of a savior. And that is exactly what the Prophet Joseph Smith said we are: “saviors on Mount Zion.”[3]

As Madsen states, in order to do this great work—savior work—we need great power. Every aspect of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation works generationally, forward and backward. For example, Kirtan Kriya (page xxx) and Ganputi Kriya (page xxx) are known for powerful generational healing, as is every complete shabd (mantra). Dr. Gurucharan Singh says, “Each complete shabd adds an inheritance, a spiritual DNA, that establishes your identity and lineage with Infinity—the unknowable unknown, itself.”[4] Scientific evidence has also documented that mantras containing primordial sounds can help the DNA replicate more perfectly.[5]
I believe one of the reasons that Kundalini Yoga was restored in our day is to aid the many souls who have come (and will come) to help complete God’s saving work. They are willing and able advanced-placement spirits, finishing their premortal lessons on becoming like the Savior. To become like Him, they need to complete saving work within their bodies and minds, as well as in the temples of the Lord. If they succeed, thousands of their progenitors and posterity will rejoice and praise them. As Isaiah 58:12 says, “Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” (italics added).

[1] Tim Spector, Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012), 8. "Just over ten years ago researchers found that the diets of pregnant mothers could alter the behaviour of genes in their children and that these changes could last a lifetime and then be passed on in turn to their children. The genes were literally being switched on or off by a new mechanism we call epigenetics––meaning in Greek 'around the gene'. Contrary to traditional genetic dogma, these changes could be transferred to the next generation. In this case the mothers just happened to be rats, but recent similar findings in humans have created a revolution in our thinking."
[2] Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, trans. Stephen Mitchell (New York: Vintage, 1986), 62.
[3] Truman G. Madsen, The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2009), 84.
[4] Qtd. in Khalsa and Stouth, Meditation as Medicine, 120.
[5] Ibid., 119.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Holy Trinity: Body-Mind-Spirit

The Holy Trinity: Body-Mind-Spirit
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.––Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Knopf, 1923), 11
Knowledge of the mind-body connection has existed for eons. Thousands of years ago, humans left drawings on cave walls depicting shamanism—the oldest known tradition that used visualized images for healing. In the fourth century before Christ, the Greek philosopher Socrates commented, “There is no illness of the body apart from the mind.” There is also ample scientific documentation on the mind-body connection, beginning with the simple and ubiquitous “placebo effect” and moving on to more in-depth studies on meditation, the mind, and physical health. I will reference some of these studies later.
We can also find examples of the mind-body connection throughout the scriptures. In the Old Testament we read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). In the Book of Mormon, we learn of a man named Zeezrom, who “lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness” (Alma 15:3). And in the New Testament, we read that at the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins and sorrows of the world, he suffered such great physical agony that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ also teaches there is an intimate link between body, mind, and spirit. For example, in the revelations containing the Lord’s law of health, God has promised blessings of physical health and also blessings of the mind and spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:19–21). Jesus Christ also taught of the importance and link between these bodies, especially when it comes to worship and service:

  • “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).
  • “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2).

My belief is that our spirits are pure and perfect, and as Truman G. Madsen taught, “our bodies can either be an impediment or an enhancer” to the divine potential coiled within us. Though the physical body may be the “strength” referred to in the scriptures, the physical body is a servant to the mind.

As a hypnotherapist, I explain the mind to people every day. The very simple explanation is that, from the time of birth until eight years old, your mind is one big receptacle for everything you ever hear, say, see, dream, or experience. Every kind and unkind word spoken to you—it all pours into your mind and forms a collection of knowns. These knowns can be added to throughout your life, but for the first eight years there is almost no barrier to entry. When a child nears eight years old, the mind separates and organizes into the conscious and unconscious mind, and a barrier is formed between the two. The newly formed conscious has many cool features, such as logic, reason, willpower, and decision-making abilities, that were not in fully functioning until eight years old.
Though these new critical-thinking skills are lauded as important keystones of free agency, the critical-thinking part of the mind is not as powerful as we wish to believe. Experts agree that the conscious mind makes up less than 10 percent of the mind. The subconscious, which is already full of subconscious programs by eight years old, makes up 90 percent or more of the mind. Much of our behavior and patterns, despite our conscious wishes, are a result of subconscious programming that was formed before we reached an age of awareness.
Consequently, though the conscious mind might make a logical decision (e.g., to stop eating chocolate or to make a daily habit of meditation), the subconscious mind, if it does not have any knowns to match this decision, will not cooperate. Thus begins the conscious versus unconscious tug of war. This unfairly stacked tug of war explains much of the resistance to lasting behavioral change. It also explains how easy change can be when the subconscious can be reprogrammed and the 90 percent and the 10 percent are on the same team.

The LDS church recognizes the shift in consciousness by age eight as the ability to choose right from wrong, which is why children are not baptized before the age of eight (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:27). Younger children are believed to be pure and without sin, but the actual doctrine is that they are not held accountable for their sins until eight years old (their parents are held accountable). The porous nature of the subconscious mind before age eight and the programming that early messages create informs the importance of raising children “in light and truth” from their very early days (Doctrine and Covenants 93:30).
If we were just trying to reprogram patterns from birth to age eight, that would be enough, but to add to the mix, there is also daily subconscious overload that comes with living in the current information age. This overload has created sicknesses unique to our time, most notably stress and stress-related illnesses. Though the mind is a giant receptacle, it has limits to what it can handle. Yogi Bhajan taught that the mind receives 1,000 thoughts per wink of the eye. Yet the mind can only process one of these message units at a time. The other 999 (per wink) go to the subconscious. If we do not have a regular practice of consolidating and cleaning the mind, the subconscious starts to unload into the conscious mind and the body. The consequences are stress, anxiety, depression, the inability to think or to work, and a condition that is much like sleepwalking through life.
When the conscious mind becomes overloaded, the mind may put pain in the body as a cry for help. This communication via the mind-body is often very literal. For example, when Sam’s mother-in-law came to visit, for three months he experienced unexplained, severe rectal pain. When questioned in a hypnotherapy session about what was going on at home, he admitted that he thought his mother-in-law was “kind of a pain in the butt.” When he made the connection that the pain was related to his emotions about his mother-in-law, the pain instantly went away as he dealt with the emotions.
As another example, Summer has suffered from chronic stomach aches since childhood; the pain was exacerbated by a childhood trauma. She also had experienced anxiety from a young age. She never connected the stomach aches with the anxiety or with an inability to digest what happened to her. As she has used meditation tools, her stomach aches have lessened.
At other times, pain seems to come from outside, such as an attack, bad food, or an accident, but when examined, these “accidents” are often subconsciously created as a way of mind-body communication. As one of my teachers often suggests, nothing happens to you; everything happens through you. I used to hate that saying because I thought it meant that I was to blame for all my problems, even other’s abuses. And in fact, I was more responsible than I wanted to believe, but when I let go of the guilt/blame mentality and started paying attention to the communication that was embedded in these patterns, I became more empowered to change them.
For example, for about ten years, every time I broke off a serious relationship, I had a strange accident: I would break or maim one or more of my toes. Each time seemed so accidental (why would I do that on purpose?), but after about six or more toes being injured, I awoke and saw the pattern. I realized that it was a subconscious way of putting pain into my body so I could have a physical indicator of the speed of the healing process. As my toe healed, I would take comfort knowing that emotional healing was also happening and would be complete within six weeks. I eventually faced and dropped the toe-breaking pattern when I found better tools. Others have done the same with the tools in this book.
Nancy came to Kundalini Yoga after she broke her right foot for the second time in one year (her story is on page xx). When I asked her if she had a desire to run from a career or financial situation, she thought I was a psychic, but it was only the body communicating loudly.
Donnette shared another interesting insight about the role of the mind as a helper or hindrance in healing: “Last night He opened my mind enough to understand what you were saying; it’s all about what you believe. So what came to me was that since I asked to be healed, I was. But I need to clear my mind so that I can believe that I’m healed. So now I believe my healing process and that of my family will be much faster! This opens a whole new world! A world of faith, belief, and miracles!”
Though we may not be consciously aware of all that exists within our subconscious mind, we must understand that we can only get out what is inside. It is like the proverb of the orange: If you squeeze an orange, you will not get apple juice. It is often when we are squeezed that we discover what is inside.
So the idea, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans centuries ago, is that transformation comes through the renewing of the mind: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Yogi Bhajan expressed the same idea:

The idea is, sit up and meditate. Thoughts come, they hit the floor, and you say, ‘Waahay Guroo, Waahay Guroo. . . .’ They hit you. You hit them. You clean it out. You do this so there may be some space left where more garbage can be dumped.
How is this renewal achieved? How is the garbage dumped? Paul gives us the answer:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Though the body is a servant to the mind, the deeds done in the body will affect the mind. Using the temple-body to perform sacred acts, both exoteric (baptism, temple ordinances, etc.) and esoteric (meditations, kriyas, fasting, etc.), is the way that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Sacrifice means “to make sacred,” and only in the physical body is sacrifice possible.
The Subconscious Mind and Agency

Sometimes people complain to me that subconscious programming robs us of agency. I agree it doesn’t seem fair at first glance, but when the records are considered, God has warned us. Though He calls this programming by other names, God warns His people of subconscious programming all throughout the scriptures. Words and phrases such as “the foolish traditions of your fathers,” “hard heartedness,” “stiff necked,” “asleep,” and “the natural man” may take on new meaning as you read with an understanding of how the subconscious mind works. You may also take note of the many injunctions, such as “awake,” “renew,” and “remember.”
Knowing the pitfalls of mortal existence, God recognized we wouldn’t get through unscathed. So He prepared a way to clean out the subconscious. That way is through the Savior Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ lived a mortal life and suffered all the temptations and afflictions of the flesh, He knows how to succor us. One of the lesser-known definitions of succor is “to go beneath.” By “descending below all things,” Christ was showing us the way to true healing, which happens at a deeper level.
Though the Atonement is the source of all healing and is available to all, I have learned that it is not applied equally, even among the equally good or deserving. I see many who genuinely seek change and healing but receive only small relief, while others receive amazing outpourings of healing and enabling power. I have wondered about this paradox many times, and I realize the reason may be that while we may ask for healing, we may at the same time subconsciously block it.  
Transformation takes more energy than we have on our own. Those who know how to use certain energetic tools, such as meditation, are able to peel back the layers for Christ—they are able to open their minds and hearts and give Him access:
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:7)
A broken heart is an open heart. The Latin root of the word contrite means “worn down, broken, crumbled.” We must wear down, break, and crumble the ego. Do we know how to subdue the ego? It requires energetic power. This power comes through a combination of sacred technology, such as ordinances, fasting, the Shabd Guru, and Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life Support - Allie's Story

Life Support
by Allie Duzette

DC girls retreat. Allie is in green turban.

I was not always awake.
I feel as though I was always very spiritual--I have had beautiful experiences with the Spirit since I was very, very young--but it wasn't until recently that my body caught up with my spirit. And when that happened, everything changed.
I woke up.
I had recently birthed my first child, and my husband and I had chosen to practice so-called "attachment parenting." This style of parenting involves a lot of breastfeeding and a lot of babywearing. My son was born at 10 and a half pounds. So babywearing and breastfeeding started off hard and got harder--mostly on my back.
One day I was looking at myself in the mirror, and I realized that my shoulders were practically touching my ears. I remember feeling surprised, and wondering what would happen if I relaxed them. It took a mighty effort, but with a giant inhale and then an even more gigantic exhale, I forced my shoulders down, down into the space where they should have been.
The effect only lasted until I took my next breath, and I watched as my shoulders immediately returned to their former position. As I stared at myself, I realized: I couldn't remember a time that my shoulders weren't in a state of tension.
That was the day I made the conscious decision to breathe--to breathe relaxation into my shoulders every single day. I didn't want that tension there, and I didn't know what else to do but breathe it out.
Looking back, this was probably the one single thing that set the stage for my spiritual awakening. Deep breaths infuse the body with prana, with life force, and strong, mindful exhalation ejects toxins from the body--toxins both physical and spiritual.
At the time, I didn't see the connection, but now looking back, it is so clear: as I began to breathe more mindfully, my soul started to change. Backlogged trauma and emotions began to clear. In their place, I was left with calm and peace.
Eventually, my shoulders took their rightful place once again, for the first time in maybe a decade or maybe two. The first time I saw my best friend after that day, she commented on how much longer my neck looked. "It looks good," she said.
I had studied breathing for years. In my youth I worked as a singer, and I took lessons and practiced very diligently. I would sing at the National Cathedral, the White House, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. My teacher would have me practice inhaling and exhaling and holding my breath every day. I had to learn how to project the breath in the form of sound, loud enough that my voice could fill a room without a microphone. I had to learn to breathe from the diaphragm instead of the chest; I had to learn how to create sound from even dwindling breath that yearns to be exhaled all at once. I had to learn to master my lungs enough to sing even when I ached to inhale or exhale; I had to control my volume and the depth of the sound escaping my lips.
In singing, everything comes down to breath support. I had known that for years and I had practiced it diligently in the context of music. But what I didn't realize was that everything inlife comes down to breath support. As Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. writes in his book Meditation as Medicine, breath is life, and life is but a series of breaths. Logically I had always known this--logically, we all know it--but it wasn't until I began to practice it that I realized how exceptionally true this is.
A few months into my awakening, I was led to the Progressive Prophetess blog, and I signed up for the 40-day introductory meditation class. During the class, Nam Joti Kaur explained that most people do not even breathe deeply enough for normal health.
I was shocked, and then decided to take matters into my own hands. I prayed that night for God's help in breathing deeply enough for optimal health. The next day, I couldn't stop gasping for air! Each breath felt like it could be my last, I breathed with such desperation. I needed more air. More and more and more. I think I breathed more often and more deeply that day than I had ever breathed in my entire life prior. But it was worth it. I noticed that in my more highly oxygenated and life-force-infused state, I was more easily able to handle the small things: the screaming children, the burned dinner, the sharp remarks from others. My increase in breath control led to an overall increase in self-control. And self-control is one of the most important things we can learn on this earth.
The prophet Brigham Young taught that eternal life is contingent on our self-control:

“The [body] must be brought in subjection to the spirit perfectly, or your bodies cannot be raised to inherit eternal life. . . . Seek diligently, until you bring all into subjection to the law of Christ.” [1]

As we learn to control the breath, we learn to control the self. Breath support is nothing more than life support.

[1]Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997), 204.