Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Story

I was born to a family who had been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) for generations. Both sides were pioneers from England and Europe and crossed the plains and helped to build temples and found cities, like Salt Lake City and Cedar City, Utah. I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was eight years old, as is custom. I wore a white dress and wore my hair in a French braid so that it wouldn’t float to the top when I got dunked. (We do baptism by total immersion.)
I was raised praying daily and going to church every Sunday. My parents taught me the scriptures, and I knew all the answers in Sunday School, but I was hardly the teacher’s favorite. In fact, at my own baptism I talked back to the person giving the speech about baptism. I also mortified my parents by publicly picking my toes as my Sunday School teacher spoke about the Holy Ghost. I was smarter than most adults I knew, or so I thought, and I was sassy.  
I was also shy when I was uncomfortable. I liked to live in my imagination, whether this was in outdoor play with my siblings or in books. My imaginary worlds were intricate. They were peopled by fairies, witches, werewolves, talking birds, portals to other worlds, and occasionally a romantic interlude on a baseball mound. As Annie Dillard might say, my reading had gone to my head. Perhaps this helped me to cope with the truth that my mother was dying.
I see now that I was angry. And afraid. The few years after my mother died were dedicated to these emotions, covered only by a lot of sass and a little style.  
When I was old enough to start high school, I was expected to go to early morning seminary class, a religion class for all the Mormon kids that was held at a church near our school. Seminary started at 6:30 a.m. My father dropped me off every morning and right after the roll was taken, I would excuse myself to go the bathroom, where I would hang out with a few other strays for the rest of the hour doing anything but studying the scriptures. The following year, my dad gave up the fight and didn’t make me go.
By then, however, I was already an incurable morning person. I found that I liked the quiet of the early morning ambrosial hours, and no matter how late I stayed up, I couldn’t sleep in. I loved rising at 5:30 in the morning and taking a half-hour bubble bath and listening to sappy music in peace before the rest of the family rose. This was my first form of meditation.
A few months into my sophomore year, however, I began to have trouble falling asleep at night, which is bad for a morning person. So I did what someone suggested: read something boring to fall asleep. At this point in my life, the scriptures were the most boring literature I could imagine. I started with the Book of Mormon.
Reading to fall asleep worked well for a time, until it stopped being boring, and began to change me, and change my heart. The Book of Mormon is a special book, and I became awake to its power and started to like it and its epic stories and truths. When I finished it, I then read the Bible (also not boring when you are awakened), but when I got to the New Testament book of Revelation, I didn’t understand a word of it.
I wanted to, though. I had this feeling that it was of great import to me.
My friend Juil told me that in seminary they were studying the book of Revelation, and their new teacher was good. She invited me to come, but my dad wouldn’t drive me. So I walked. It was a good half-hour walk at six a.m. in the chilly morning. By the time I arrived, I was probably the only student present who was wide awake. I rarely missed a day of seminary afterward, and I walked most days. (I still did not understand the book of Revelation until twenty years later when I became a yogi, but I will get to that later.)
My transformation was noticeable. Though I still had some inner anger, and I frequently challenged authority, I had a testimony of the truth of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and Jesus Christ’s Atonement. I became a lovely young woman.
Twenty years later, I am still a young woman, only more radiant. But let me go back a decade. One of my good qualities is that I can be very loyal, but this also became a source of pain, when I made a bad choice in marriage. I spent four years being loyal to a man who physically abused me on occasion and mentally abused and belittled me daily. I was too embarrassed to admit that I had become “that woman,” whatever stereotype I may have had for her, and so I lived in total denial.
My only form of meditation at that time was my daily writing practice, which I began early in the morning like sadhana, and wrote for hours. This practice may be what kept me alive, even if it was living in an alternate reality.  
By the grace of God, my husband left me when I became pregnant. Although my troubles didn’t end there, I was no longer living without oxygen. I got a fresh breath of air and awoke from four years of sleep. I realized I had a choice. I could become bitter, or I could become better. As soon as I chose better, the rest started to happen on its own.
Somehow, I found myself at Yoga West in Los Angeles, staring at an images of Yogi Bhajan on the wall of the dimly lit yoga room with wood floors and Christmas lights on the ceiling. I was there for pregnancy yoga. Over the course of many Tuesdays there, I discovered, or rather remembered, that I had all the tools I needed within myself. I decided to birth my baby naturally. I took a hypnosis for childbirth class. I started to meditate. I had always been good at praying (after all, worry is a form of prayer), but when I started to meditate, I started hearing back from God. Personal revelation became more recognizable, and I had the strength to follow it.
Grace for grace, I walked the valiant path where it led me. Creating life was amazing. Birth and motherhood transformed me back into my true self. I started singing again (I stopped when I married). I had such a spiritually amazing experience with birth, that I wanted to help other women of my faith have a great birth, too. So I began to gestate a second baby, a spiritual birth book. I published it six years later with four coauthors.
The five of us all say that The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth was really written by God; we were just the transcribers. In the book, I dedicated a whole chapter to meditation and the importance of meditation while pregnant. When Mormons everywhere read the book and wanted to learn more about meditation, they were suddenly looking to me.
Thankfully, God has a plan, and in that six years between the birth of my daughter and the birth of our book, I had graduated from a college of hypnotherapy and completed several Kundalini Yoga teacher trainings. I didn’t always know why I was doing these things at the time, but God knew. While I once thought that working with pregnant women was my destiny, it was actually preparing me for my higher destiny, which is to teach people of my faith about the technology of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan®.
Kundalini Yoga and Meditation changed me from a hollow husk of a woman to a radiant spiritual being who is awake and whole. I still have all the duties and challenges of a householder in the modern era. I clean my house, run a business, pay bills, do laundry, and try to cook nutritious meals. My daughter and I have a great relationship, but I still have to teach her manners and repeatedly ask her to do her chores. I have to watch out for gopher holes when I walk through the orange groves, remember to put gas in my car, dress for the weather, and choose how to respond to grouchy people who work in customer service. I deal with grief, discomforts, loved ones’ burdens and traumas, and global tragedy. But I now deal with these things differently.
Kundalini Yoga gave me the tools to access a fullness of what I already had a bit of (the gospel, the Atonement, joy, etc.).  It hasn’t made my life tragedy proof, but my daily practice has transformed me such that I walk through fire or sunshine or rain with grace. And I feel happy—which is the meaning of my given name. It took many years to live up to that name.
Now I have a spiritual name, which I grow into each time I use it. Nam Joti Kaur means the princess-lioness who walks in the light of God’s divine name. As a teacher, I have been blessed to witness hundreds of students also transformed through communion with God. They are faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who found my online class, took a chance on something weird, and are happy they did. You will read many of their stories and more of mine in this book. .

Before my baptism, years ago, I memorized the thirteen Articles of Faith, which begin with “We believe…” and summarize the church’s theology in very simple terms. The thirteenth and crowning article of faith ends with this statement: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” I have spent most of my life taking this statement to heart, and I am better for it. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”(1)
I love Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®! I love Jesus Christ’s gospel and His restored church. I am a covenant-keeping, temple-going member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who wears a turban and practices daily sadhana during the ambrosial hours. I live a consecrated life. I hope that the technology of Kundalini Yoga spreads to all the reachable and teachable everywhere.  
Yogi Bhajan taught that everyone should create a teacher ten times greater than themselves in their lifetime and that every student should be a teacher. That is why I have written this book. It is my hope that the sacred science that Yogi Bhajan so generously and freely gave us can be easily and accurately shared. I also hope that for those with little access to a Kundalini class or to others with common interests, the stories I have included will help you to know that you are not alone. The stories included are all from people who have taken my class or found my videos online and accepted my 40-day challenge (which is meant to be only the beginning, of course). They are are active, covenant-keeping members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hope that they inspire you to what is possible as they continue to inspire me.


(1) Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 313.

3 comments:

  1. When I woke up yesterday I thought "It's today! It's today!" just like the boy at the beginning of the movie Stuart Little. I went to your website, and sure enough the first installment of your book was there. I read it before I even got out of bed! And I did the same thing today. I have really enjoyed it so far and am anxious awaiting more. :)

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  2. I loved your story and I look forward to reading your book. I love it already even though I have not gone past your story. I know it will hold things that will touch my heart <3

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