This blog is written by Sophie Miles, a student at Kundalini House and a true spiritual warrior dedicated to the path of truth & transformation through yoga and natural health.
Even after a few days in to the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya challenge, and I could already feel a shift in my consciousness and my body. It’s the second time around for me practicing this meditation and I feel moved to share my personal experience about what Sodarshan has done for me. I was going to post in the Facebook group, but Billie suggested the topic might be worthy of a longer blog post; so, here goes…!
When I first practised the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya for 40 days, I had been a faithful Kundalini House member for a while. And I had already experienced profound changes for the better in my mind, body and soul. With the kind encouragement of the dear teachers at K-house (Billie, Nancy and especially Jai Inder), I started a home practice as well as coming to class. Actually, this was becoming a necessity; I was travelling frequently for my work, and I work in an industry fuelled by alcohol and drugs, so I desperately needed a daily routine to help protect my newfound sobriety and serenity from getting smashed by the “rock’n’roll lifestyle” which is my working environment every summer.
The truth is, when I first came to Kundalini House, I was struggling. Even though I was blessed with a loving marriage and a fulfilling working life; inside, I was a nervous wreck. Years of alcohol and stress had taken their toll. I was exhausted, fearful, overweight, puffy, irritable, prone to anxiety attacks and crying jags. But from the day I walked through the doors of K-house, everything changed.
After two and a half years, I still feel like a newcomer, but I have been around long enough to see what has happened within me, happening to others; the softening, the opening, the awakening, the youth-ening, the radiance and the quiet joy that kundalini yoga brings into our lives. As I dipped my toes into the practice, I started to feel changes I hadn’t thought possible. Alcohol – which had always been a problem for me – gradually, then suddenly, melted away. The decision not to drink anymore, when it came, was obvious and simple; a relief and a blessing. Finding myself on a new path, I’ve just keep walking, and my old self destructive habits get further behind me. This in itself has been a huge shift.
There are other shifts still taking shape; a growing stillness and calm within, a presence of intuition and trust. And very slowly, a feeling that I am being taken care of… by my self. My body and mind are growing stronger, and yet also softer, less rigid. And to my great surprise — having lived in my head all my life, and seen my body mostly as an ugly, awkward emcumbrance — a little bit graceful. These are some of the great gifts that a daily (well… most days) practice has given me.
When Jai Inder suggested that I practice the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya, almost two years ago, she told me “It’s full on. But I think you’re ready.” As I began, I read Yogi Bhajan’s words that it would clear out the trash from my subconscious mind. Aha, I thought, “the shadow self”, thinking of the Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell books I’d read. And I felt apprehension at the idea of facing the dark side of my personality, all the “ugly” aspects of self that I repress and deny, the wounds I’d kept hidden, or thought I had.
But what I didn’t expect was the physical response. Very quickly, my body started falling apart… or so it seemed to me. The dis-ease in my subconscious manifested as disease — real, painful, horrifying disease. I had occasionally suffered from alopecia areata (patches of hair loss) in the past, but now the alopecia began to rampage; my hair fell out in clumps, and soon I had alarmingly large bands of complete baldness on both sides of my head, with just a few straggles of thinning hair on top.
I tearfully told my husband that I looked like a “nasty doll”; you know, one of those creepy dolls in your grandma’s closet with a few clumps of hair sticking out of the holes in its bald head. On the funny side, I became a “turbanista”, wearing my kundalini turban out on the streets, and fortuitously finding that I was on trend; young women come up and ask me all the time where I got my turban!
At the same time, another pre-existing condition, lichen planus (a very painful rash inside my mouth) flared up with a vengeance, ravaging the inside of my cheeks, my gums, my tongue and palate. My mouth was so badly inflamed and full of open wounds and lacerations that I could barely eat solids, let alone the spicy food that I used to love. I was in constant pain, and painkillers were no use; the last thing I wanted was a painkiller dependency (hey — I’ve been there). I went from specialist to specialist, and wept when they told me there was no treatment that was acceptable to me. All they could offer were systemic steroids, or immuno suppressant drugs, and considering the horrific side effects, these options were completely insane to me. I had to face the reality that like so many sufferers of auto immune conditions, western medicine had no answers for me.
I shared my fears with Jai Inder and she told me, “These symptoms are a blessing. Don’t be afraid, this is an opportunity for you to be in a place of surrender.” Her words rang true, and I suddenly considered the freedom I had been given by western medicine not having any options for me; I could choose to see my symptoms in a non traditional way. The idea came to me that my symptoms were not signs of disease, but of healing; that my body and mind were striving to heal themselves, with the guidance of my soul. And actually my soul was now in charge; now that I was listening to my inner voice, it could help my body to heal.
Gradually my worst imaginings that my symptoms were signs of some hideous, undiagnosed and no doubt terminal disease, were replaced by a perception of my symptoms as old wounds which were surfacing in order to be healed. And perhaps most radically, I saw the visibility of my woundedness (my poor balding head), as an opportunity to learn to accept kindness — something I’ve always struggled with. I always felt that I had to be a strong independent woman, and not show any weakness. But of course that meant my heart was not open to accept the love and kindness that I, along with all of us wounded and imperfect humans, deserve and need so very much.
Two years later, and back on the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya challenge — now with a community to share it with — I can look back on the transformation that has taken place. With the support of the amazing Pia Williams (and previously Pip Atherstone) at K-house, I have been healing with herbs and acupuncture, finding a diet that nourishes my body, learning to give my self what I need. Perhaps the most profound change is that I no longer see my body as diseased and fragile, ready to betray me at any turn with its mysterious maladies. Now my body is my beloved friend. I no longer feel I have to hide my bald patches (which are much subtler now, anyway), although I still do rock the turban in and out of class. I am happy to talk to people about my condition without fear or shame, and believe me that took a long time. I look in the mirror and no longer see a “nasty doll” but a healthy and vibrant woman. I can smile into my own eyes and treat myself with kindness and compassion. And I hope that love can radiate out to those around me.
So what will Sodarshan Chakra Kriya hold for me this time? honestly, I don’t know, but I am so up for it; and so very grateful for the opportunity to share this journey with the beautiful souls at Kundalini House.
Blissful blessings & sat nam,