by SS Subagh Kaur, São Paulo, Brazil
Guru Arjan ji reminds us in Sukhmani Sahib that when we “Meditate, meditate, meditate, peace is obtained, Worry and anguish are expelled from the body.” With the technology of Kundalini Yoga and its profound effects on the psyche through mantra and meditation, we have striking evidence from our students’ feedback, that they receive relief from their worry and anguish. We see this in their smiles as they gratefully leave the class. May the teachings prevail as we move further into the Aquarian years. Wahe Guru!
I had been asking the Universe for a seva project that I could really sink my teeth into, one in which I would feel that I was making a contribution. Some time later I was invited to be part of a pilot project in Hospital das Clinicas, one of the largest teaching hospitals in South America. The Day Hospital, housed within the Instituto de Psiquiatria, serves people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and who have had multiple hospitalizations through the years. All are being managed with chemical intervention.
The Day Hospital operates on Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM and offers a very diverse program of activities and therapies, including acupuncture, music therapy, psychodrama, and Reiki. The administration was seeking a yoga teacher to round out the repertoire of healing activities; when the director called me to discuss the project we had a match!
My undergraduate degree was in Social Work. Right out of college I had worked in a hospital in Maine, so I felt familiar with the hospital environment. But the psychiatric realm was a horizon yet to be discovered. As a long-time Kundalini Yoga teacher, I have given thousands of classes and trained hundreds of teachers and yet I found the classes challenging, requiring new delivery methods to reach this group of 20 students.
I began to research the material from our vast array of teachings from Yogi Bhajan and found my way to David Shannahoff-Khalsa’s books. He is a research scientist and veteran Kundalini Yoga teacher with expertise in the area of alternative therapies for psychiatric disorders. I plunged in, researching the world of the new students.
The Complex Human Psyche
Those of us who have studied the mind through the yogic prism know what a multi-layered complexity lies within the human psyche. When this is superimposed on the clinical knowledge of modern psychiatry we find a huge amount of research with very different symptom domains and diagnostic conclusions. So what did I squeeze out of this plunge?
Most people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have unique “clustered” symptoms, a little of this and a lot of that mixed up in an array that produces periods of “disorganization.” The first psychotic episode is frequently in young adulthood; poor attention skills and concentration challenges are pretty much guaranteed; difficulty in making eye contact and a serious demeanor are a given.
In July 2012, we had our first anniversary of the weekly Kundalini Yoga class. Teaching this class requires a tremendous amount of verbal and energetic stimulation. The co-directors of the project continue to give us extremely positive feedback and gratitude for our participation. The students continue to show up, pushing through their limitations in an attitude of “keep- up.”
After one year, an 11-minute meditation is becoming a reality! I am filled with compassion and admiration for their efforts of breath and movement which go unnoticed in a normal class, and gratitude for these time-honored practices that strengthen and heal the delicate realm of the mind.
About the Author
SS Subagh Kaur Khalsa is a North American living in Brasil since 1986, when Yogi Bhajan encouraged her and her husband SS Guru Sewak Singh to settle here. Subagh Kaur graduated in Sociology at the University Misericordia in Pennsylvania. She has practiced and taught Kundalini Yoga for over 28 years. She has studied herbology, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, massage, Facial Rejuvenation and vegetarian cuisine. She is a certified KRI teacher trainer, is a member IKYTA, a South American representative at the International Khalsa Council and a participant of international biennial meetings of 3HO. She is the current director of 3HO Brazil.