Sadhana Today and Tomorrow
"What will we do for sadhana tomorrow?"
It is not a question I often hear asked. Maybe it should be.
Very early on in his teaching, my teacher Yogi Bhajan established the importance of rising each morning for sadhana - a vigorous two and half hour practice of Kundalini Yoga and meditation before dawn. When I arrived at Guru Ram Das Ashram in Toronto in 1972, the exact format of that sadhana was left to the ashram director to decide. Then, in the summer of 1973 our spiritual director, Yogi Bhajan began to lay out specific mantras we should chant for that year and the following years, usually four half-hour meditations. One time, as I recall, it was an hour of one chant and thirty minutes each of two others. On Yogiji's birthday each year we celebrated with a special sadhana of two and a half hours of the Adi Shakti Mantra, or "long chant." This went on, with regular mantras cycling in and out of our routine each year until, around the mid-1980s.
Over the years, Yogiji spoke often about sadhana. My first teacher training manual started on page one with Guru Ram Das's instruction that "one who considers themself to be a disciple of the True Guru should rise before the coming of the light and contemplate the Name." The definitive Kundalini Yoga/Sadhana Guidelines was published under Yogiji's direction in 1976.
Over the course of the years, Yogi Bhajan many times prescribed specific meditations for individuals to practice. The directive was for individuals to get up early and do their special sadhanas first, then to join in the collective sadhana. In those days there were hundreds of Guru Ram Das Ashrams. Teacher training consisted of living in such a center and participating in the daily practice. The Sadhana Guidelines still encourages living in an ashram and describes it as a place "where everyone gathers in the early morning hours."
Yogiji was fully aware of the human propensity to sleep where waking would be preferable. He once said, "With a great sadhana, you will be great. With less sadhana, you will be less great. With a little sadhana, you will be a little great. You have a problem. You want to be great without sadhana."
The Master also set for us a high standard. In his words: "A person once came to me. He said, 'I heard they you are a great Yogi.' I said, 'Well, what do you want?' 'I have found you!' I said, 'Then what do you want?' 'That's it!' I said, 'No, that's the beginning!' He said, 'What's the end?' I said, 'The end is sadhana, until you become ten times better than me!'"
This is and has always been the context of the Kundalini Yoga sadhanas given by Yogi Bhajan. And so, since the beginning of Yogiji's teaching mission, two things always happened. 1) Mostly people did a little sadhana. 2) Many of his students speculated over who would succeed Yogi Bhajan as spiritual guide for 3HO.
This was the situation in 1992 when he gave us the so-called "Aquarian Sadhana," seven mantras, most of them chanted for just seven minutes, to be practiced until Summer Solstice 2012. Of course, Yogiji physically passed from this Earth in 2004 without designating a successor and so when 2012 rolled around, there was no spiritual director to give any new direction. For their part, the members of the KRI board said everyone should just continue as usual. But, after all, the Kundalini Research Institute is a body for researching and publishing Yogi Bhajan's teachings, not for providing spiritual direction and initiative.
So what is a yogi to do?
In my view, the morning routine of meditations Yogi Bhajan assigned us for 1992-2012 is a great introductory sadhana for anyone new to morning sadhana. The meditations are short and the instructions not very difficult. Personally, I come "out of my cave" once a month to do the Aquarian Sadhana with other devotees of these teachings here in Toronto. A couple of weeks ago, when we last did so in a beautiful park, half the participants were new, and two of them were under twelve years of age. The sadhana did not faze anybody and we all had fun.
Aside from social occasions however, beginner sadhanas are really for beginners. Anyone who seriously wants to rise to the spiritual heights achieved by Yogi Bhajan needs to do a regular sadhana and find something more challenging.
It just happens that our dear Yogiji left us with hundreds of meditations to do. Some of them are specifically meant to be practiced in the predawn hours. For some, the minimum practice time is thirty-one minutes. Each of these gems brings out designated strengths and virtues. In my humble view, this is where an advanced student of Yogi Bhajan needs to focus their energies.
Where can we find these meditations?
In my search, I found twenty-eight empowering and somewhat lengthy meditations in five printed sources, including The Aquarian Teacher Level One Instruction Manual. Here they are:
The Aquarian Teacher Level One Instruction Manual (2007)
Gunpati Kriya - 11-62 minutes - Benefit: "to clear the blocks from your own karma"
Indra Nittri Meditation - 11-62 minutes - Benefit: amplifies the force of your spoken word
Kirtan Kriya -30 minutes to 2.5 hours - Benefit: "A person who wears white and meditates on this sound current for 2 1/2 hours a day for one year, will know the unknown and see the unseen. Through this constant practice, the mind awakens to the infinite capacity of the soul for sacrifice, service, and creation."
Adi Shakti Mantra - 3 minutes to 2.5 hours - Benefit: "If the Mantra is sung in sweet harmony, you will be one with the Lord."
Mala Meditation - 11-62 minutes - Benefit: "can help to reduce stress and enhance wisdom, patience, and health."
Master's Touch Meditation - 2.5 hours - "This mantra will give you the power of the Master's touch."
Meditation on the Divine Mother - 44-248 minutes - "This meditation gives concentration and mental beaming. It tunes into the frequency of the Divine Mother - the primal, protective, generating energy. It eliminates fears and fulfills desires. It gives power of action by removing blocks of insecurity."
Sodarshan Chakra Kriya - 11 minutes to 2.5 hours - "This meditation cuts through all darkness. It will give you a new start. It is the simplest kriya, but at the same time the hardest. It cuts through the barriers of the neurotic or psychotic inside-nature. This kriya invokes the Kundalini to give you the necessary vitality and intuition to combat the negative effects of the subconscious mind."
Tershula Kriya - 31-62 minutes - "It gives you the ability to heal at a distance through your touch or your projection. Many psychological disorders or imbalances can be cured through the practice of this kriya, and it is helpful in getting rid of phobias, especially father phobia."
The Mind (1998)
Meditation for the Positive Mind - 11-62 minutes - "This practice opens the heart center and the feelings of the positive self."
Kundalini Yoga Manual (1976)
Kauri Kriya - "the longer, the better" - "This kriya will give rhythm and melody to all your utterances. An added result of practicing this kriya is that it will help you reduce weight."
Dhrib Dhristi Lochina Karma Kriya - 31 minutes to 3 hours - "Honestly practice this meditation and the following things will happen: your eyes will have the power to heal anyone; your words will have the power to penetrate deeply; you will learn to talk inspiringly and your words will always represent the truth of a given situation; you will be able to project your personality or your bodily sensations anywhere; lastly, you will always know the consequence of any action before you start."
Kundalini Yoga Journal of Science and Consciousness (1975)
Shabd Kriya - 15-62 minutes - "If practiced regularly, sleep will be deep... There cannot be enough praise of this meditation and its growth-promoting effect on the personality. It gives radiance and the radiance gives patience which is the first condition of real love."
Relax and Rejoice: A Marriage Manual by Yogi Bhajan, Volume 2 (1982)
Meditation for Security - 11 minutes plus - "This meditation unblocks the spine. The mudras work on the area of the brain having to do with security."
Meditation for Financial and Marital Stability - open time - "This meditation is for self-healing, for marital stability, for green energy to come, and for worldly things to lift your spirit. It can also be done if you are dealing with others' mental problems. It is a sarba sud kriya - it corrects everything."
Meditation to Make Your Worries Look Little - 11 minutes plus - "This is a banda daya kriya. When you finish it, everything will look little to you."
Meditation to Tap Opportunities Around You - 42-73 minutes - "It will make you supersensitive... It will give you an intuitive mind, a mind that will tell you if you are going in the right direction or not."
Meditation to Bring Innocence and Dispel Fear - open time - "This mahan kaal kriya is very powerful. If it is practiced, everyone in your family will live to a ripe old age."
Meditation to Take Away Hardships - 11 minutes plus - "This meditation works on the central channel. It creates a vibration in the ethers and takes away hardships."
Meditation for Aggressiveness and Emotionality - open time - "If aggressiveness and emotionality are interfering with your relationship, do this meditation."
Meditation to Remove Negative Thoughts - 15 minutes plus - "This meditation changes you totally and puts you on a new wavelength. Do it when you feel a lot of negative thoughts. It neutralizes harmful thoughts in you and others."
Meditation for Thinking Before You Speak - open time - "If your lips are not doing a good job of guarding the most powerful hole in the body (the mouth), do this meditation."
Meditation for Effective Communication - open time - "This meditation will make your language very effective, so effective that you will be able to communicate through the sheer force of your thoughts."
Meditation to Communicate Better and Unblock the Unconscious - 36-67 minutes - "When there are negative vibrations between you because of incomplete communication with yourself or your partner, do this meditation. It will aid in the process of self-evaluation, probe the ego to change, and unblock subconscious communication."
Meditation to See God in Your Partner or Others - open time - "This pikhna bhakti meditation gives you the power to see the creative consciousness of another individual. It is an enjoyable, devotional meditation."
Meditation to Open the Heart - open time - "If you feel your heart is closed and there is no flow of love, and want to change to open your heart, do this meditation."
Meditation to Console - open time - "If you have suffered insult or injury, this meditation will heal, console, and wash away all negativity."
Meditation to Cleanse the Subconscious of Guilt - open time - "Most people carry a sense of guilt toward some thing or things they have done in the past. This meditation will help clear that burden.
That's quite a trove of spiritual technology, isn't it?
Where to begin? Go through them carefully and pick the one, or the ones, that will take you where you want to go, address your deficiencies, develop your strengths. If in doubt, ask a friend, a teacher, or do a prayer and see what comes up. You can set a limit, say a year, to do a meditation, or keep doing it until you feel you have achieved your objective, then move on to another meditation that challenges you. Or you might just pick one or more of these gems and do them for life. They certainly give life to us!
And don't be a cave yogi! Come out now and again, as Yogiji did, and share sadhana with others. The path now as when Yogiji first taught, is from individual consciousness to group consciousness to universal awareness, and that is Wahe Guru!
May God and Guru give us all the light, excellence, and inspiration we need to grow on this path each day. May we succeed in life and in sharing the sacred science of Kundalini Yoga with humility, effectiveness, and grace. Sat Nam.
In the Name of the Cosmos which prevails through everyBody and the Holy Nam that holds the world.
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa