by SS Dr. JivanJoti Kaur Khalsa, Santa Cruz, New Mexico
2023 (Second Quarter)
I wish to thank the Sikh Dharma Ministry for devoting this newsletter to the Progressive Arc of the Resolution of Trauma. I was grateful to be asked to write an article on this timely and important topic. Even though I am a psychotherapist, Kundalini Yoga teacher and Sat Nam Rasayan healer, I am not writing this article from the perspective of a professional. Rather, my focus here is the vulnerable, intimate and personal journey of healing trauma in my own life.
There are a number of realizations woven throughout my story:
- For me, listening (suniai) to my intuition and then following its guidance was critically important.
- Identifying my personal strengths was helpful. I am loyal and a good listener. I have a positive mind and can be quite determined/stubborn. I was able to turn those qualities inward and use them to attend to my inner child, so that we could face these challenges together and eventually heal.
- It may not be possible to totally free myself of my traumas, but I can learn to recognize their triggers and thus manage them.
- Learning to honor my traumas as teachers for my growth and transformation has allowed me to rewrite my stories of victimization.
- In my experience, the relationship with one’s soul is the most important relationship. I believe it is critical in order to fully heal our lives and prepare for death.
Over 50 years ago, I came to Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma in search of a better way to live. In this lifestyle I found effective tools to heal myself and to share with others. No less important, it gave me a nurturing and sustainable way to thrive in a marriage and raise my children. It became my life, and everything revolved around it–from running an ashram, teaching, counseling, and writing books applying the technology of Kundalini Yoga to many populations around the world. As my four children were schooled in India, I spent months at a time there, volunteering in various programs. Being with them and their friends are some of my happiest memories. I felt like I was a second mother to many of them.
When the Yogi Bhajan allegations came out and the India kids told their stories, I was shattered. Yogi Bhajan was not only my spiritual teacher, but also the father that loved and accepted me unconditionally. I had always considered myself a good, caring person and a wonderful mother. All of that was now called into question. Was everything I had done for the past half-century fraudulent and for nothing? For a while I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to live. I went into a state of trauma—what our yogic teachings might call Cold Depression.
What did I do?
I did what I had always done–Daily Sadhana, Kundalini Yoga, Meditation and Japa (chanting and reading from the Guru)–I reached out to them like a drowning person reaches out for a lifeboat. But in the beginning, being in a state of shock, I could not sit and focus for long periods of time. My previous practice of doing long meditations was not possible. I started with a few of my favorite kriyas and meditations for shorter periods of time. As I started to heal, I experimented with the times, depending upon how I felt and what I needed. As I went about my day, I also chanted Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad Sat Gur Prasad Ek Ong Kar to cut through any negativity. This experience gave me the confidence that the Teachings were legitimate and continued to work for me.
21 Stages of Meditation: By December 2020, I felt ready to do a more substantial, organized and deeply spiritual practice. On January 1, 2021, I started the 21 Stages of Meditation on my own at home. With my aging body, I needed help holding some of the harder postures. I took my time, using lots of pillows and props to hold the postures. If I could not find a way to do a posture without hurting myself, I visualized it; the results were just as effective. It took me seven months to complete the program. It was transformative; I felt balanced.
Sound Current – Reciting and listening to Japa: I found that merging with the sound current of Japji Sahib—not just reciting it out of habit—was truly transcendent. The sounds vibrate the strings of our meridians like fine-tuning an ethereal instrument. The practice of taking hukams has also enhanced my intuition and helped me to know which treatments are best for me at any given juncture on my journey.
The Forgiveness Meditation: One of the most healing practices I did (and continue to do) was to recite the Forgiveness Meditation, as per the original directions: “I forgive everyone for everything they have ever done to harm me.” Repeat for 3 minutes silently. “I ask for and receive forgiveness for everything I have ever done to harm others.” Repeat for 3 minutes silently. “I forgive myself; I dwell in love and light; I dwell in God.” Repeat for 5 minutes silently. Then relax, believe it, and allow it to occur.
At first I didn’t believe that such a simple practice could be effective, but with repetition and sincerity, I grew to embrace it. It became my personal prayer.
The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection: From a young age, my stress and trauma had lodged in various parts of my physical body, because I wasn’t allowed to voice my needs and emotions. I went to medical specialists to correct the physical damage done. To further address the more deep-seated issues, I worked with a couple of good counselors and a trauma therapist. I came to recognize the triggers and the symptoms that would surface with certain people, places or situations–a pain in my stomach; shallow breathing; a tightness in my heart; or thinking self-defeating thoughts.
I realized that my childhood trauma was being triggered by the current trauma in our Dharmic family. Compounded trauma and grief had built up over years of not thoroughly dealing with it. I needed to be coached through some of it and to be given other techniques to help me release these painful memories and events.
One interesting and potentially harmful thing I learned was that someone else’s trauma could trigger mine and that mine could trigger someone else’s. I believe that we are seeing that phenomenon in our Dharma right now. A good counselor can possibly help in such challenging situations. In family counseling, sometimes the individual members first need to do their personal work alone before group healing is possible. I am hopeful that as we heal individually in our Dharma, we will heal as a family as well.
Rewriting my Story: I knew I could either get caught up in my “self-pity” and become the victim of my traumas—or I could rewrite my story. I have had a lot of betrayal and rejection in my life. I can either accept it as part of my identity or I can empower myself by using what I learned from those experiences. Because I was rejected, I know what that feels like, and recognize it in others. One of my missions in life is to be inclusive and to act as an advocate for others.
Gratitude and Transformation: Part of rewriting my story has been acknowledging that what happened in the last three years has been a blessing and an amazing opportunity for my growth and transformation. I have shared with you the multi-faceted pieces of the puzzle of my healing process. Listening to my body, inner child, intuition and Guru have all been essential. In our lifestyle we have many wonderful and effective tools to help us thrive and flourish. May my healing and yours be one, until we take our last breaths and all merge into the Infinity of the One. Sat Naam.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS JivanJoti Kaur Khalsa, PhD in Psychology/Counseling, has studied Kundalini Yoga and Meditation since 1970. She is a KRI-certified Level 1, 2 and 3 Trainer. She is also a Level III certified Sat Nam Rasayan Instructor and Healer and has been a Sikh Minister since 1974. She has authored three books: The Art of Making Sex Sacred, Editions 1 and 2; Dying Into Life: The Yoga of Death, Loss and Transformation, Editions 1 and 2; and A Million Rays of Light: The Yoga of Aging and Chronic Illness. Her latest and probably last contribution to her mission is a Dying into Life training – a yogic/eastern based death-doula type program on how to die consciously and help another as well. For more information, contact her at [email protected]