Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sadhana For The Adventurer

A consistent sadhana is at the core of the Kundalini yoga experience. Change occurs when one follows a daily regimen of yoga and meditation. The consistency chips away subconscious and physical blocks. Keep the sadhana strong and the universe will take care of the rest.

A daily practice is certainly feasible when one has a set schedule and location. Awaking before dawn to do yoga is practical if one has an apartment and a nine to five job. But what happens to the traveling yogi? What becomes of sadhana if one is at a 14,000 foot campsite in the midst of a howling storm?

I experimented with “sadhana on the road” while on a three month backpacking trip to South America last year. I traveled by bus through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. Most of my time was spent in the remote Andean highlands where the elevation ranged from 10,000 up to 16,500 feet.

Maintaining my discipline was a challenge. I began the trip during the eighth month of a daily regimen of 31 minutes of Sat Kriya. This asana entails sitting in rock pose (with the buttocks on the heels), clasping the arms above the head with the arms straight, and pointing the index finger towards the sky. “Sat” is chanted as the navel point contracts, and “nam” as it relaxes. “Sat Nam” means “our identity is truth.” Some of the countless benefits of Sat Kriya include balanced sexual energy, a strong nervous system, and smooth digestion.

I flew into the nearly 11,000 foot former Incan capital of Cuzco, Peru from sea level. I awoke the following morning to a splitting headache and a complete lack of appetite. Two weeks later I found myself in La Paz, Bolivia with a case of dysentery. Fever and a weak stomach made the idea of Sat Kriya most unappealing. The symptoms lasted for several days in both cases.

I contemplated taking a break from the practice during both of these illnesses. Yet every morning I brought myself onto my heels, clasped my hands above my head, and began pumping the navel along with the mantra “Sat Nam.” The kriya circulated healing prana through the body. It strengthened my worn out digestive system. The repetition of mantra brought peace to my being.

Another challenge was keeping up in the outdoors. My primary reason for visiting South America was trekking in the Andes and the Amazon. I did not know how my sadhana would fit into a mountain man lifestyle, but I was determined that it would. One afternoon I found myself camped under a 14,000 foot pass in the Cordillera Real range of the Andes in western Bolivia. A hail and snow storm blew in as I was in my tent meditating. For a moment my ego jokingly pondered whether I had developed some siddhi that enabled me to call in a storm. The wind was bending the tent poles on my head.

I ate dinner with a friend and our indigenous guides before scoping out a spot for Sat Kriya. My hands shivered in the night air. I periodically opened my eyes to glimpse the lights of isolated villages amidst jagged shadows of the Andes silhouetted by the moon.

That trip took me up and over the Andes and into the Amazon Basin. The freezing ice storms of the Andean highlands gave way to the world’s largest forest. My heart raced during Sat Kriya as my mind interpreted unknown sounds as prowling jaguars.

Fitting in Sat Kriya became part of the adventure. Finding a way to meditate amidst mountain gales, damp jungles, and interminable bus rides was an adventure in itself.

As I have grown in my practice, Sat Kriya has become sustenance. It has become less of something that I do, and more an aspect of my identity. When I was sick it brought healing. When I was exhausted and overwhelmed it brought strength.

Sadhana is not an impediment to the traveler. Rather, it is a companion that nourishes the journey.

1 comment:

Prabhu Singh said...

WaheGuru! I definitely enjoyed reading this. I could relate considering I've done Sat Kriya everyday for 31 minutes for 4 1/2 years now. I've done it in all sorts of places, under all sorts of conditions as well. I got really sick in India (a couple years ago) and was in bed for a couple days. When I felt best was when I was doing Sat Kriya. As soon as I'd finish I'd get back in the bed. It was a struggle, but it gave strength and healing. Good luck Ji.
Sat Naam.