I learn Yoga is not for the weak-hearted

In order for members of any group or community to remain together successfully there must be a mutual attraction or an affinity. The affinity draws people together, through an exchange or support at the vital, mental or intellectually level. Through this affinity love develops.  And the more we love, the more we begin to know that which we love. The more we experience love, any form of love, the closer we come to discovering the secret that Love is self-existent.

The experiences in my life so far had awakened me to a common thread, a form of love, which underlines everyone and everything.  I felt that all difficulties and conflicts, which naturally arise between people, can be harmoniously overcome through that thread of love.  I became more accepting of my world, less critical of Mikael but also more willing to submit to the force and direction that my soul or essential self would take me.   I felt confident that things would unfold as they should at the right time, as long as I kept an unbiased perspective and did not interfere too much. I was beginning to feel that my life belonged to some divine part of myself and that if my life was not misused through egoism I would clearly experience that divine guidance.

Twice daily meditation was now of great importance to me. Connecting with the essence of who I am, allowed me to see the wonder in my life as it was and not what was missing from it.  For the first time it became important that all my actions were just and inherently correct and harmoniously supported my soul and my family and those within my sphere of influence.  I discovered the right action in situations brought me mental peace and if not that I was convinced it brought purification, whereas any departure due to desire or aversion resulted in confusion, frustration and suffering.  It seemed more courageous to accept what happened in my life each day than to long for change.  There were constant lessons and purification.  I stopped all daydreaming and spent time in deep introspection.  My karma became my dharma as I learned to appreciate it and accept both the lessons and gifts it held for me.

Through meditation my personality was being stripped of its pleasures and aversions. All the qualities of my personality,  many of those of which I was the most proud was being put on the Witness stand for  examination and cross-examination.  My feminism, my cynicism, my stubbornness, my secreted away misanthropy and sense of being apart from others – all were being challenged.   My arrogance (what arrogance? I pleaded), my self righteous attitudes (what self righteous attitudes?) and my drinking (what drinking? you mean the daily glass or two of wine?). Everything was stripped away one by one.

And then I met my Yoga teacher.

Yogi Bhajan was a giant of a man, a True Yoga Master. He made quite an impression with his larger than life physical appearance and personality and his entourage of handsome Sikh body guards and beautiful young women.  He empowered women, giving them a sense of their immense inner strength and light.  He seemed to truly appreciate and respect women. He taught a householder Yoga that honored the Feminine.  He was liberal and gave all the techniques freely, without holding anything back.  He gave so much, to so many, for so many years, but by the mid 1990s, I thought he seemed sad.  Maybe he hadn’t been able to accomplish what he had set out to do, or that he was a bit disappointed in the crowds of people who hung onto him or maybe he had been able to accomplish what he set out to do and simply wanted to retire or go Home.  I had heard him mention years earlier that God had promised him, that he could leave this earth much earlier. He was angry with God for not holding up his part of the bargain.

Although I gained much inspiration from my training at Kripalu and from workshops with various Hatha Yoga gurus, and all the amazing teachings of Kriya Yoga my  teacher training period  evolved over three years, while working with Tom.  Tom was a student of Yogi Bhajan, but was a self-styled renegade.  My first class of Universal Yoga, was taught by Linda, while Tom was in Albuquerque.  It was small class and was held that day in a Sikh Temple with only Linda, myself and a man who introduced himself as Frank.  But, it was amazing.  I don’t recall the techniques but remember we practiced a lot of ‘breathe of fire,’ in various positions and my third eye opened. I loved the rapid abdominal breathing, that I knew as kapalabhati and had a vision of Jesus. I hadn’t even thought of Jesus since childhood.  I was hooked by that one hour class.

After class, to my surprise I learned that Frank was Linda’s husband and he said he spent some of the class watching a man, unseen by Linda and I, who was checking out the room and handling a sword that was on display.  He assumed that the “gentleman” was with me!  I laughed and assumed I had found my tribe.   I was happy to have found Linda and looked forward to meeting her teacher Tom, the following week.

The next week, Tom was teaching and when I arrived for class he seemed to be expecting me.  He  had an imposing physical presence.  He   held his arms akimbo and stared  into my eyes for an uncomfortable length of time.  On that first day he almost seemed kind.  Linda was there, but not Frank.  I learned later that Frank did not really like Tom.  Tom had a beautiful voice and would sing during class.  He could play the gong in a way that took everyone in attendance on a magical mystery tour.   I learned advanced techniques from him and he pushed me hard. I developed a daily discipline that surprised me.  I would practice Yoga and mediation 8 hours a day, staying up till 3am each night.  Tom told me that I was doing too much, and we argued seriously and often.  He was clairvoyant, could read everyone’s thoughts and would often project his own thoughts into my mind, which irritated me no end.  When once I was able to block him, he become enraged and told me if I ever did that again he would refuse to work with me.  Linda and I used to comment that his wife must be at such a disadvantage. She could never have a secret thought of her own. He was a powerful man and controlling and loved to play students against one another.  But he had great techniques to share and he forced me to grow and opened me to prayer again.   I doubt I could have gotten from working with anyone else  as much as I got  from working with Tom during those years.  He appreciated my sincerity and understanding of Yoga,  my discipline, my ability to do difficult physical techniques well and to persevere, and I was willing to pay for them.  I paid extra for all the techniques and ofttimes, I would pay for a session and he would teach me nothing, saying that I was not ready!

Tom, Linda and I really enjoyed each other’s company, although I doubt that Tom would ever admit it.  We would sometimes meet by 4 am and drive to the beach together to do Yoga before sunrise and meditate on the sun, chanting as sun began to rise over the Atlantic.   And often to our delight, a school of dolphins would be there to greet us in the early morning light.  We would have satsangs that lasted for hours on end with the deepest meditations and true self discovery.
One class I experience an inner explosion of energy and found myself in the eye of a tornado. The energy spiraled up my spine and for a while  I remained detached at the center.  The energy flowed upward spinning powerful in such profusion of light, heat and vibration. My hands felt that they were literally on fire, not hot, but that tongues of fire were leaping from my fingers. Of course my eyes were not open but glued to the top of my head.   It was the most exhilarating and bliss-filled physical experience of my life.  But, at one point, some anxieties arouse about what would happen next and that thought, stopped the flow in its tracks.  What would have happened if I had just relaxed around the experience?

Tom wanted me to start teaching and forced the issue. I had no interest in teaching.  I was strictly fascinated by the workings of the human body, mind and soul.   I was happy.  With Tom and Linda I had found a secure ground upon which I could grow, refine and expand.  And I loved them!

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