Like many members of the Spirit Voyage online community, I have participated in many of the 40 day sadhanas taught by many wonderful people (including Snatam Kaur, Mirabai Ceiba, Nirinjan Kaur, Mahan Kirn and Anne Novak). Not being a student of Kundalini yoga, I am constantly awed by the wide variety of practices available to Kundalini yogis – mantras with intense mudras, kriyas and postures that would make most people quake in fear, and long Gurmukhi recitations that on occasion leave me breathless and tongue-tied. And yet, each time a new 40 day sadhana is announced I sign up immediately. I know that each 40 day period will teach me something new about myself and my yoga practice.
The brain is highly elastic. I have never been good with foreign languages. In middle and high school, I squeaked by with moderate grades in German class, and I somehow managed to live in Japan almost 3 years and still come out with minimal Japanese abilities. I have always believed that I am just not capable of speaking anything by my native English. But through challenges like 40 days of So Purkh and Japji, I discovered that I am in fact capable of learning large passages of Gurmukhi. Also, as my ears become more accustomed to hearing these words, I can recognize familiar words and passages in other shabads and banis. It’s a small but exciting thing for me to see my brain expanding it’s language abilities little by little.
Our bodies can do amazing things. The first time I saw a picture of Bound Lotus, I thought someone had lost their mind. Surely only crazy people would willingly do that to themselves! And with the current Radiant Body Sadhana, I get to work up an intense sweat doing squats and practicing my balancing skills. Yoga is hard sometimes! But it’s amazing to watch my body become stronger or more flexible, whatever the case may be.
The breath is a powerful tool. Holding the arms in various positions and at different angles is quite challenging. Balancing on one leg for mere seconds can feel endless. While often we tend to hold the breath when we are straining to do something, yoga teaches us to use the breath as a tool to sustain our practice. When I wanted to put my arm down during the Burn Inner Anger sadhana, I anchored my arm with my breath and kept it up. During the balancing portion of the Radiant Body kriya, I challenge myself to lengthen my breath as much as possible, which keeps me calm and helps me maintain my balance. Yoga’s focus on the breath has slowly worked its way into my regular routine, and now I often remember to breath consciously and deeply in many of the things I do.
Resistance can be overcome. 40 day sadhana commitments can be wonderful times of transformation. Or they can be times when everything in your being rebels against the practice. Maybe your ego doesn’t like the shake-up of the status quo. Maybe the ideas you have about yourself physically or emotionally are challenged or stretched. When I did 40 days of Kirtan Kriya, sitting down for those 31 minutes was the hardest part of my day – truth be told, I hated it. And yet I kept up, one day at a time, until the end. While some people took away bliss and peace, I took away a sense of appreciation for my resolve to keep going in the face of terrible resistance. I am forever grateful to yoga for reminding me that I can indeed overcome difficult situations (even the ones I choose to be in!).
Community is wonderful. I have made so many amazing friends by participating in Spirit Voyage’s Sadhanas. When I’ve struggled, people have reached out with words of encouragement and advice. When I’ve breezed through, I’ve tried to offer support to others in return. And it’s a wonderful feeling to imagine that when I sit down to do my recitations or begin my kriya, there are other people around the world doing it too. The discussions on the Spirit Voyage Global Sadhana Group are a great way to delve deeper into the community aspect of the global Sadhanas, ask questions, and get inspired!