Kathryn Livingston

 Cancer and Kundalini Yoga

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that these days is often treatable, but is sometimes incurable, and definitely scary. No one ever wants to hear the words, “you have cancer,” no matter what the prognosis may be.

When confronted with the possibility of impending death, everything about my life looked better, and worth holding onto. The sunrise was brighter. The bird’s song was more melodic. Everything was magnified, including my love for everyone in my life and my love for life itself.

There was so much to talk to the Creator about during this experience, and to be grateful for, and ask for on a daily basis. I had never talked to God so much in my life, or felt so sure that the Infinite Creator was by my side.

Then, a funny thing happened: I didn’t die! After surgery and radiation, I got better and better, until I was declared “a survivor.” Even my oncologist seemed done with me.

After a few months of feeling well again my conversations with God became more and more infrequent. I was still grateful and relieved, but for some reason the connection seemed muted. I couldn’t figure out a way to get it back short of becoming sick again, and I certainly didn’t want that to happen.

All throughout my treatment, I was practicing yoga, but I had not yet discovered Kundalini yoga. Then, my physician informed me that her wellness center offered a KY class. I decided to try it out.

At the very first class, with the very first mantra—“Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo”—I connected, once again, to the Divine. A doorway opened again. In fact, I dreamed that very night that I was climbing up a flight of stairs. I wasn’t sure where the stairs would lead, but I knew I had to keep going. I had to trust that the steps would lead to something good.

And they did. I kept going to KY class, and found that it helped me with fear, with physical and mental health, with trust, with strength, with connecting with God, and with what my Kundalini yoga teacher called “answering the call of my soul.” This was the very thing that had been missing—my soul’s connection to the Infinite that I had felt when I was diagnosed with cancer, but had lost when I returned to “normalcy.”

I kept practicing, and with each year the memories of my cancer experience, and the fears surrounding it, continue to recede. Another cancer survivor announced in a class one day that she’d had a double mastectomy, but that she never felt so much like a woman as she does since she has discovered Kundalini yoga and tapped into her own grace, power, and inner beauty. Another KY practitioner told me that the main thing it has given her is fearlessness.  For her there simply is no fear; in its place, is love.

I would not wish cancer upon anyone, but living through it made me know in a very profound way the importance of maintaining and nurturing our connection to Infinite love, the importance of knowing and believing that we are loved and cared for, and  that whatever challenge we face, the Divine is there with us to see us through. This is the lesson Kundalini yoga has taught me, and even more importantly, the practice has given me the tools to keep the connection open and strong. The bond between God and my heart is now unbreakable.

I’ll close with the lyrics of the song “Har Mukanday-Liberation” by Mirabai Ceiba which have been so beautifully adapted from the poem by Rumi, “Liberate my Soul” which speaks so deeply to me:

Take from me what I want,

Take from me what I do,

Take from me what I need,

Take from me everything.

Take from me everything

that takes me from you.

Fill me with your Love,

Liberate my soul.

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