Ain’t no ducks Waddling at Wattles Mansion!
Yesterday: Went to Wattles Mansion again, laid my mat under a pine tree at the lower right corner of the image above, and sort of rushed through “Foundation for Infinity” from Summer 2004 Aquarian Times; then “Ashtang Agni Kriya: Eightfold Fire Kriya of Kundalini” (from Masters Touch p. 66). The meditation is short, 6 minutes long, flapping your arms against your sides almost like a flying bird. My energy was amped up significantly in 20 minutes, and my head felt a lot clearer. I’d been feeling sluggish and run-down that afternoon, and had drank a couple cups of weak coffee to try to “fix” that, but it hadn’t worked. Prior to my yoga, I’d also noticed a disturbing smell, and finally figured out it was MY bad breath, not the woman sitting next to me, despite the fact that I’d just brushed my teeth and showered. So I did lion breath during some of the exercises, and the smell went away. I think that breath (breath of fire through the mouth with your tongue extended to nearly touch your chin) helps clean out your lungs and detoxify you. I listened to Laya Yoga during and after the yoga, as I walked to meet friends.
Unfortunately, I hung out with a friend at Starbucks later, which was great, but drinking more caffeine after my energy was pumped up wasn’t a wise choice. I also ended up feeling like the coffee combined with the energetic yoga acted like a lack-of-good-judgement truth serum, and wondered if I might’ve been better not blurting out some things I’d shared with the friend.
When I got home I did my 11 min “Har” and then the “Healing the Wounds of Love” meditation again for the second time. You’re supposed to do it 11 days in a row; it’s 43 minutes long. The first night I did it, it helped me get to sleep, so I don’t think I did the whole thing. So I consider last night “day one” and boy did it get boring. My mind bounced around, and I only felt like I was really “present” for 2 of the recitations of the shabd.
Today I went to Fern Dell in Griffith Park and did “Creative Energy Kriya” (p. 71 in “The Heart Rules – Yoga from the Heart” by Guru Prem Singh Khalsa. His website is http://www.divinealignment.com/) My plan was to allow enough time to do the physical yoga set and the next 23 minute meditation from Masters Touch. I was about a third of the way through the set, checked the clock, and was surprised, no, shocked, to see I only had about 20 minutes until my 7:45pm engagement, which is in a difficult parking location, like much of LA. I looked through the rest of the exercises, and started to panic a bit. There were 19 exercises!
I usually assess how long things will take before I start, but I guess I didn’t tonight. So the 2-3 minute exercises got whittled down to 1 minute each, and I pretty much rushed through the rest of it, which left me pretty frustrated. (Curiously, one of the exercises was almost exactly like the meditation I’d done at Wattles Mansion yesterday.) How had it gotten so late? I was sure I’d left the house at 6:15, and the park is only 10-15 minutes from my apartment. Well, the smartphone clued me in; I’d made a call at 6:33 right before leaving, so at best I’d only been in the park half an hour. I didn’t get to do the meditation at that point, and got pretty frustrated by the traffic I pulled into; a fire truck was blocking the lane, parked, and I took a side street to avoid it, then a mini-van moseyed along in front of me and took about five minutes to make a left turn into moderate traffic… finally found parking, and got to my location to discover a locked door. My frustration had amped up and up and up. Inappropriate rage would be a better description. So much for Creative Energy! Once I got inside, I did some pranayama single nostril breathing to cool myself down. Later, I was surprised I hadn’t even noticed the “under construction” sign by the locked door. I was feeling ashamed that I’d gotten so mad, and couldn’t even pin it on anything.
Ironically, the next set in the book is “Professional Anger Kriya,” and Guru Prem describes his process of becoming aware of his anger and how Yogi Bhajan had instructed him to “bless everyone, including himself.” Interestingly, the first time I saw Yogi Bhajan speak live, at Yoga West, I sat against the back wall of the room, and he was answering questions. I was sitting there feeling furious, wondering why I was so mad all the time and what to do about it. I didn’t like the vibe of the room, I didn’t like everyone standing up and bowing to him when he walked in the room; who the hell WAS this guy? So he looks at me across the sea of seated people, and says, “when we are angry, it’s because we forget to be grateful.” I hadn’t even asked my question out loud.
This happened again a few years later; I was about to go visit my dad, who was dying from cancer, and was scared and frustrated, and couldn’t even think what question to ask. He looks over at me across the filled room at Golden Bridge and says, “when someone is sick, you can just sit with them, breathe with them. That is enough.”
The last time I saw Yogi Bhajan, it was a couple years after my father had died, at the Japji course in Espanola before Summer Solstice. He’d been quite sick with kidney problems, and hadn’t made any public appearances for a while. He walked into the room, and although I’ve never been one who could “see auras” I could sense he was going to die soon, and it shook me up. There was something about his presence that reminded me of my dad right before he died. They were both born the same year too.
At that course, I was dreading running into a couple of people. I’d had an ungraceful exit from Golden Bridge’s community; I’d been doing the morning cleaning, as paid seva, but the pay was minimal, and although I didn’t care for the work too much, I loved the place and people, and saw it like cleaning my own apartment, and a spiritual discipline. But the hours were difficult; it had to be done at 6AM, so i usually did sadhana and then cleaned afterwards. But my non-yogic friends started giving me shit about it; “you have an MFA, you shouldn’t be doing CUSTODIAL work!” I was also feeling like I should be doing something more closely related to my talents and skills, something that paid decently, but was also still sort of reeling in the grief following my dad’s death, so it gave a bit of structure to my day. Gurmukh would tell me how important the job was, although I kept wondering if that was true, why didn’t it pay better – but I liked seeing her come in while I cleaned to water the plants by the fountain. It was in those mornings that I saw her “walk the walk” and saw the side of her that the fawning students and people who liked to put her down didn’t know.
She gave me this elephant – or Ganesha? – mobile after returning from India while I did that job.
Then somebody said I hadn’t shown up one day, even though I had, and that particular day had been quite difficult for me anyway because I hadn’t slept well. Another day I showed up and the burglar alarm went off, and I couldn’t remember the code to turn it off, so I finally just left and called about it from a pay phone. That was the day of White Tantric, which constitutes a pretty full day in the first place. Then I actually didn’t show up a couple of times. So the gal in charge, who looked an awful lot like Alicia Witt, had to fire me. I should’ve taken pro-active action to follow-through and move on properly, but I hadn’t. It was my fault, but I still had a lot of resentment about it. One funny thing about the whole experience was that I’ve never been much of a “neatnick” anyway, so cleaning was about the furthest thing from my realm of expertise.
Well, back at the Japji course, the near-death Yogi Bhajan walks in the room, and immediately, out of nowhere, the gal who’d had to fire me plops down right in front of me! I knew there was some sort of amend that had to be made, but couldn’t figure out what. The friends I was sitting with asked if I was alright, because I think I’d turned white. The combo of seeing Yogi Bhajan near death and instantaneously needing to confront my karma left me a bit dazed. I couldn’t quite figure out what to say to her, then she left, and for a good portion of that Summer Solstice, I kept wondering what to do. Actually, I don’t even remember if we DID have a discussion about it, but by the end of the week, I felt like it was ironed over. There were also weird encounters with Gurmukh and Gurushabd that week; I glared at her as we waited in line for the outhouse, and she looked uncomfortable in response. Then at sadhana, somebody taught the 7th Gate Set that Gurushabd had taught during teacher training, but added another exercise at the beginning of it. I mentioned that to Gurushabd, and I think he thought it was a put-down, although I was pointing out that I still treasured a set I’d learned from him. He brushed me off, and turned a cold shoulder and walked away. Gurmukh then mentioned that the set was now actually in the Teacher’s Training manual that came out the year after we did teacher’s training. She gave me her prasad, because apparently she didn’t want it. But the gesture was quite kind, and somehow almost seemed like an apology for Gurushabd’s behavior, although I’m not really sure it was.
Despite that, I’m not sure things were really “healed” with her; when we later started the LA Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Network, we met with her at the then new barn of a studio behind the Arclight, and Kirtan Singh and I walked in to discuss the planning of what ended up being our last and biggest event, to be held after pre-natal teacher training at Golden Bridge. She looked over at me and said, “what’s HE doing here?” I was a bit surprised, because she’d come to our first planning meeting at Yoga West a couple years earlier, and when Kirtan said that I’d helped initiate the group, I heard an audible gasp from her, which felt like approval.
Despite the friction, the event planning went fairly well. After going on at length about her upcoming trip to India, to be photographed for Vanity Fair’s special on famous yogis, she expressed her desire to include Guru Singh at our event, and Kirtan said he’d like to call him to invite him, but I stepped in and said I’d like to make the call since I’d been playing music with him. Guru Singh agreed to come, but showed up late, and later admitted he’d forgotten about it. I wondered if an invitation from Kirtan might’ve carried more “authority.” We had over 70 people at the event, which was great.
Later encounters with Gurushabd weren’t bad, either; we’ve had friendly encounters at events at Golden Bridge, and one morning a few years later, I’d done sadhana in the morning, and although he wasn’t there, I was remembered him saying he often liked to take a morning walk after sadhana, and as I thought about it, decided to take one myself. I’d also dug back into “The Artist’s Way” and was thinking about Julia Cameron’s admonition to take “an artist’s walk” during the week, and decided I’d hike up to the Hollywood Sign. So I drove up the hill to the ranch below the sign, hiked up and back, and as I’m returning to my car, here comes Gurushabd with his dogs, hiking up the hill I’d just come down from! I was too shocked to verbalize how funny the synchronicity had been, but I later told him about it at Golden Bridge.
Back to Guru Prem. I think his books are wonderful. He came to teacher’s training for a special session on proper alignment, which is when I discovered some of his talents. I didn’t take well to him at first; I’d gone to Yoga West early on, expecting to end up at Guru Singh’s class for the second time, paid for my class, and walked in to find this other guy teaching. I went to the front desk and asked about it; “no, this is Guru PREM Singh, not Guru Singh!” I was puzzled but beginning to discover the oddities of Sikh names. Because I’d walked in with a different expectation, I didn’t like what I ended up with. But we worked together at Summer Solstice, and that’s when I began to get to know him a bit more. Then I discovered that he’d made many, many of the recordings we’d been doing yoga to. Now when I run into him at Gurdwara, where he’s often playing, it’s really great.
When I bought the manual for the Creative Energy Kriya, it was at Baisakhi’s Bazaar, and I’d just had a nice Sat Nam Rasayan treatment from Jeanne DeSilets, and felt like my explosive erratic energy had been re-aligned and focused. I started talking to Guru Prem, and we must’ve chatted an hour or two! He told me about running into Robert Plant in India, and how great the album Plant had done with Alison Krauss was. The CD Guru Prem includes with “The Heart Rules” manual was the first he’d done in a while, I believe. I wasn’t excited by it at first, but it really grew on me a lot. Guru Prem later sent me this pic with Robert Plant:
Robert Plant and Guru Prem Singh